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FREDERICK DOUGLASS 

THE ORATOR. 

CONTAINING 

AN ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE; HIS EMINENT PUBLIC 

SERVICES; HIS BRILLIANT CAREER AS 

ORATOR; SELECTIONS FROM HIS 

SPEECHES AND WRITINGS. 

JAMES M. GREGORY, A. M., 

Professor of thk Latin Language and LiiERATirpF, 
Howard University, Washington, D. C. 



WITH AN introduction BY 

W. S. SCARBOROUGH, A. M., 

Professor New Testament, Greek and Literature, 
Payne Theological Seminary, 

WiLBERFORCE, OhIO. 



IIvLIJST\RA.TE;D. 



f 



SPRINGFIELD, MASS.: 

WILIvEY & OO. 
1893. 



ll'i^it^y 



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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1893, 

By JAMES M. GREGORY, A. M., 

In the Office of tlie Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C. 



SPRINGFIELD PRINTING AND BINDINf: COMPANY, 

EirCTROTVPEKS, PRINTERS AND BINDERS, 

SPRINGFIELD, MASS. 



TO THE STUDENTS 

WHO HAVE PASSED UNDER MY INSTRUCTION DURING 
THE LAST TWENTY YEARS 

THIS BIOGRAPHY 

OF 

AN EMINENT ORATOR AND A CHAMPION OF 
HUMAN FREEDOM 

IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED. 




W. S. SCARBOROUGH. 



INTRODUCTION. 



When it was announced that Professor James 
M. Gregory of Howard University would edit a 
volume bearing upon some phase of the remark- 
able career of one of the most remarkable men of 
our times, the Hon. Frederick Douglass, all be- 
came expectant, and felt that a worthier chronicler 
of a worthier sire would be difficult to find. 

Both the writer of this volume and his hero 
as well are eminent citizens in their respective 
spheres, and will doubtless receive the respectful 
attention they merit — the former as a representa- 
tive of the younger generation, and hence the 
product of the new dispensation; the latter, of the 
older generation, but the product of two dispensa 
tions, the old and the new. 

Professor James M. Gregory by education and 
by training is in a high degree qualified for the 
task he has undertaken. Having passed through 
the Cleveland (O.) city schools, he became a stu- 
dent of Oberlin College, and then a graduate of 
Howard University, Washington, D. C, where he 
took high honors. 

Immediately upon graduation he was made 
tutor of mathematics in the preparatory depart- 



6 INTRODUCTION. 

ment of his alma 77iater. After four years as 
instructor here he was made professor of Latin in 
the college department, and was for two successive 
years dean of that department. He was also in- 
structor of political economy and general history. 

Professor Gregory is a forcible writer, a fluent 
speaker, and an acceptable orator. Aside from 
this he is a man of sound judgment and great 
executive ability. As an educator he ranks among 
the first and easily holds his own. He was the 
first executive officer of the American Associa- 
tion of Educators of Colored Youth, organized 
under the auspices of the alumni of Howard Uni- 
versity, and has since been annually re-elected to 
that important office. This in itself is conclusive 
proof of his eminent fitness for the position he 
holds. 

He also served as a member of the board uf 
trustees of the Washington city public schools for 
six years, and during that time was chairman of 
the committee on teachers. Here as in other 
positions he distinguished himself by his efficient 
service and strict integrity. 

The hero of this volume is too well known for 
even a reference from rne, but a few observations 
will not be out of keeping with the plan and scope 
of this work. Without exception, the most cele- 
brated negro now living is the Hon. Frederick 
Douglass. Born in the lap of slavery and reared 



I 



INTRODUCTION. 7 

by slavery's fireside at least until he succeeded in 
making his escape from bondage, Mr. Douglass 
has demonstrated beyond contradiction the possi- 
bilities of his race even against the most fearful 
odds. There are other prominent colored men in 
America — doctors, lawyers, theologians, orators, 
statesmen, nd scholars — but none of them from 
a national standpoint has attained the celebrity 
or the prestige of the " Sage of Anacostia." The 
pious Mrs. Auld, when she was " learning Fred 
how to read," little suspected that she, in reality, 
was shaping the future of him (though then a 
slave and a member of one of the despised races) 
who in time was destined to become one of the 
most distinguished men of his generation. Thus 
it was. 

Mr. Douglass himself tells us, in his autobiog- 
raphy, that he made such rapid progress in master- 
ing the alphabet and in spelling words of three 
and four syllables, that his old master forbade his 
wife to teach him, declaring that learning would 
spoil the best " nigger " in the world, as it forever 
unfits him to be a slave. He added that he 
should know nothing but the will of his master, 
and should learn to obey it. As to Fred, learn- 
ing will do him no good, but a great deal of harm, 
making him disconsolate and unhappy. If you 
teach him how to read, he will want to know how 
to write, and this accomplished he will be run- 



8 INTRODUCTION. 

ning away with himself. Such in substance was 
his old master's opinion, and that it was a true 
prediction the life and career of Mr. Douglass, 
which have been fully told elsewhere, are a suffi- 
cient proof. 
/ Mr. Douglass's superior ability as an orator and 
I as a writer was early recognized by the friends 
I of the race, and from that day to this his services 
in behalf of his people have ever been in demand. 
On the other hand he has been ready to sacrifice 
his own best interests for his race, and he has 
not failed to make the sacrifice. He is a brilliant 
orator, a fluent talker, and an interesting conver- 
sationalist. He has an excellent memory, and 
can recall dates and facts of history with perfect 
ease. A day in his society is a rare treat, a privi- 
I lege that might well be coveted by America's 
i greatest citizens. The greatness of the man and 
the inspiration that comes from every word that 
he utters, make one wonder how it was possible 
for such a remarkable character to have ever been 
a slave ; and, further, how even now it is possible 
for any discourtesies to be shown him because of 
his color. It is nevertheless true, however, that 
this distinguished American citizen must suffer 
with the rest of his fellows and share like indig- 
nities — and all because of his race. 

Socrates used to say that all men are suffi- 
ciently eloquent in that which they understand. 



INTRODUCTION. • 9 

Cicero says that, though this is plausible, it is not 
strictly true. He adds that no man can be elo- 
quent even if he understands the subject ever so 
well but is ignorant how to form and to polish his 
speech. We take these views for what they are 
worth, but venture to add that eloquence is a spoit- 
taneous outburst of the human sotil. 

The cause of the oppressed could not have 
found a more eloquent defender than Mr. Doug- 
lass. Himself oppressed and denied the rights 
and privileges of a freeman, he felt what he said 
and said what he felt. The negro's cause was his 
cause, and his cause was the negro's cause. In 
defending his people he was defending himself. 
It was here that the brilliancy of his oratorical 
powers was most manifest. It was here that he 
was most profoundly eloquent. 

Themistocles, Pericles, and Demosthenes may 
be said to represent the three ages of Greek 
eloquence. Themistocles was undoubtedly the 
greatest orator of Athens before the time of Per- 
icles. " His eloquence was characterized," says 
Cicero, " by precision and simplicity, penetrating 
acuteness, rapidity, and fertility of thought." 

Pericles was a finished orator, the most perfect 
type of his school, and was regarded by Cicero as 
the best specimen of the oratorical art of Athens 
— eloquentissitmis Athefiis Pericles. But the third 
representative was one whose oratorical greatness 



lO INTRODUCTION. 

seemed destined to remain forever uneclipsed. 
In Demosthenes political eloquence in Greece 
culminated. He was without doubt the greatest 
of all Athenian orators, and, to use the language 
of Longinus, " his eloquence was like a terrible 
sweep of a vast body of cavalry." It mowed 
down everything before it. 

Certainly a noble ambition, if, as we learn else- 
where, the sole purposes for which he labored 
were to animate a people renowned for justice, 
humanity, and valor; to warn them of the dangers 
of luxury, treachery, and bribery, of the ambition 
and perfidy of a powerful foreign enemy; to recall 
the glory of their ancestors, to inspire them with 
resolution, vigor, and unanimity, to correct abuses, 
to restore discipline, to revive and restore the 
generous sentiments of patriotism and public 
spirit. Laudable as was this ambition, it was no 
more laudable than that which actuated Frederick 
Douglass during all the years of his active life. 

The scathing invectives and fiery eloquence of 
Mr. Douglass were the inevitable outcome of a 
soul longing for freedom in all that the term 
implies, not only for himself but for an oppressed 
race. His sole purpose was to stir the hearts of 
the American people against the system of slav- 
ery and color prejudice ; to touch the philan- 
thropic chord of the nation so as to induce it to 
recognize the brotherhood of man and the father- 



INTRODUCTION. I I 

hood of God. A tremendous task was his, but 
he never gave up the struggle. Day and night 
he pleaded for freedom, for citizenship, for equal- 
ity of rights, for justice, for humanity. Could a 
higher sentiment of philanthropy and patriotism 
pervade a human soul than this ? 

Lincoln, Grant, Sumner, Morton, Phillips, Gar- 
rison, Garfield, Blaine, Wilson, Conkling, Wade, 
Thaddeus Stevens, Chase, and other advocates of 
freedom have all passed away, but they have left 
behind them influences that survive. The echoes 
of their words in senate chambers and public 
halls will resound throughout all ages ; their 
heroic lives and their philanthropic deeds will 
live when time shall have passed into eternity. 
These, however, were of Anglo-Saxon extraction. 
On the other side stands one of African extrac- 
tion, to some extent their co-laborer, the hero of 
this volume. In point of ability and all the vir- 
tues that go to make up a well rounded citizen- 
ship Mr. Douglass compares well with them all — 
the only difference being that they represent 
white American and he black America. 

This grand old patriot will always live in the 
hearts of his countrymen as one of the greatest 
of America's noblemen. His hard-fought battles 
and victories won will prove an incentive to gen- 
erations yet to come. His virtuous life and 
noble deeds will always remain to warn us to 



12 INTRODUCTION. 

bestir ourselves in tlie interest of manhood rights, 
in the interest of justice to all men regardless of 
color or nationality. 

W. S. SCARBOROUGH. 

WiLBERFORCE, O., April i8, 1893. 



PREFACE. 

It has seemed to the author that a volume 
which should give the important incidents in the 
life of Frederick Douglass, and which should 
treat of him as orator and thinker, would find 
favor with the public. His speeches and lectures 
have been carefully examined, and the best selec- 
tions from these incorporated in the biography. 

No pretensions are made to the discovery of 
new facts. Where practicable Mr. Douglass is 
permitted to speak in his own language. Most 
of the quoted passages are from that inimitable 
autobiography, " The Life and Times of Fred- 
erick Douglass," and are here introduced by per- 
mission of Mr. Douglass, and the publishers, 
Messrs. De Wolf, Fiske & Co. Such other pub- 
lications have been consulted as were deemed 
necessary. 

The main purpose of this book is one of useful- 
ness. If it shall be instrumental in leading our 
youth to study the character of this remarkable 
man and to draw from it lessons that will urge 
them to high and noble effort, the time and labor 
spent in its preparation will not have been in vain. 

J. M. G. 

Howard University, March 24, 1893. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. PAGE 

Birth and Early Life. — Escape from Slavery, 17 

CHAPTER II. 
Career as an Anti-Slavery Agitator. — First 

Visit to Great Britain, . . . . 28 

CHAPTER III. 

Editor of the " North Star." — Connection 

with John Brown, 32 

CHAPTER IV. 

Second Visit to England. — The War of the 

Rebellion, 50 

CHAPTER V. 

Continued Literary Efforts. — Freedmen's 
Bank. — Official Career in Washing- 
ton. — Visit to His Old Maryland Home, 54 

CHAPTER VI. 

Banquet in Recognition of His Public Serv- 
ices. — The Douglass in His Hall, . . 61 

CHAPTER VII. 

Visit Abroad. — Return Home and Reception. — 
Minister Resident and Consul General 
TO Hayti, 71 



CONTENTS. 15 

CHAPTER VIII. PAGE 

As Orator and Writer, , . . . . 89 

CHAPTER IX. 

Extracts from His Speeches and Lectures, . 97 

CHAPTER X. 
Extracts from His Speeches and Lectures 

Continued, . . . . . . .122 

CHAPTER XI. 

Extracts from His Speeches and Lectures 

Concluded, 173 

CHAPTER Xn. 

Members of the Douglass Family, . . . 199 

CHAPTER XIII. 
His Home. — Personal Traits and Character- 
istics, 207 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PORTRAITS. 

Author's Portrait. 
Frederick Douglass. 
Frederick Douglass, Jr. 
Charles R. Douglass. 
Lewis H. Douglass. 

Mrs. R. D. Sprague (Daughter of Frederick 
Douglass). 
John Brown. 
James A. Garfield. 
U. S. Grant. 
John M. Harlan. 
Rutherford B. Hayes. 
Hvppolite. 
Abraham Lincoln. 
W. S. Scarborough. 
Charles Sumner. 

VIEWS. 
Residence of Frederick Douglass (Cedar Hill, 
Anacostia, D. C). 
Front View. 
Side View. 
"Mr. Douglass' Den." 




FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 



FREDERICK DOUGLASS, 

THE ORATOR. 



CHAPTER I. 

Birth and Early Life. — Escape from Slavery. 

Among the great men America has produced 
whose achievements will be narrated to posterity 
and remembered, is Frederick Douglass. His 
name is so identified with the anti-slavery move- 
ment that no account of this eventful period of 
our national existence will be complete in which 
the historian neglects to tell of the remarkable 
career of this eminent man, and to assign him 
that place which the services he has rendered his 
race and mankind deserve. 

It is often argued that great crises produce 
great men, and, conversely, great men bring about 
great crises, but it will be found difficult to estab- 
lish the truth of either of these propositions 
to the exclusion of the other, inasmuch as the 
forces that operate and co-operate in each are 
factors of a common product. Observation shows 
that when the exigencies of the times have de- 
manded leaders, those were chosen whose train- 
ing and experience fitted them for the particular 



1 3 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

emergency. An ancient author relates that when 
an inhabitant of the barren island Seriphus in 
the ^sean sea, to which the Romans banished 
their criminals, claimed that Themistocles had 
acquired distinction not through his own glory 
but through that of his native Greece, Themis- 
tocles replied : " Neither, by Hercules, if I had 
been a man of Seriphus, should I ever have been 
eminent, nor, if you had been an Athenian, would 
you ever have been renowned." 

It sometimes happens that one circumstance or 
chain of circumstances singles out a man from 
among his fellowmen and places him in the num- 
ber of those whose fame shall endure and grow 
brighter with time. Father of his Country is the 
title which appropriately belongs to Washington, 
because, under his leadership, success crowned 
our arms in the war for independence. The fame 
of John Brown is made secure by his raid upon 
Harper's Ferry and his subsequent martyrdom. 
If the other acts of President Lincoln be forgot- 
ten, the one act of signing the Emancipation 
Proclamation will insure him the remembrance 
of posterity. Hero of Appomattox is the desig- 
nation by which Grant will be known through the 
ages. The name of Frederick Douglass will 
survive as the fugitive slave who became one of 
the most eloquent orators as well as profound 
thinkers of his time. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 9 

Frederick Douglass was born at Tuckahoe, in 
Talbot county, Maryland, in February, 1817. 
The place was not distinguished either for the 
fertility of the soil, the beauty of the surround- 
ings, or the thrift and intelligence of its inhabit- 
ants. His mother was Harriet Bailey. Of his 
father he has no knowledge. He lived with his 
grandmother till he was five years of age, and 
during that period saw his mother only a few 
times. He was now taken to the home planta- 
tion of Colonel Lloyd, about two miles from his 
birthplace. Here, along with the other children, 
he was placed in the care of Aunt Katy, whom 
Mr. Douglass describes as a cruel and ill-natured 
person. 

At the age of ten he was sent to Baltimore to 
live with Mr. Hugh Auld, whose wife, Mrs. Sophia 
Auld, was his first teacher, and she continued her 
instructions until objection was made to it by 
her husband. Frederick, however, found other 
means of accomplishing his desire. Having pro- 
cured a spelling book he learned to read through 
the assistance of his white playmates whom he 
met in the streets. When about thirteen years 
of age he bought a book entitled the " Columbian 
Orator," with money earned by blacking boots. 
The speeches of Sheridan, Lord Chatham, Will- 
iam Pitt, and Fox, which he read in this book, 
increased his information and supply of words, en- 



20 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

abling him to give expression to the thoughts that 
now began to form in his mind. By reading and 
observation he was led at this early age to under- 
stand something of the wicked system of slavery. 

About this time he became acquainted with a 
pious man by the name of Lawson, whom he 
visited at his home. Father Lawson inspired 
him in his search for knowledge by the assurance, 
" The Lord has a great work for you to do, and 
you must prepare yourself for it." It was soon 
after his acquaintance with this good man that he 
learned to write by copying letters with chalk on 
fences and pavements. Left in charge of the 
house he wrote upon the vacant spaces of copy 
books which his young master had used in school. 
He further continued his studies, seated in the 
kitchen loft late at night when the other inmates 
of the household were asleep, in transcribing 
from the Bible, the Methodist hymn book and 
other books, a barrel head serving him the pur- 
pose of a table. 

Upon the death of his former owners Frederick 
became the property of Mr. Thomas Auld, who 
then resided at St. Michael's. Here he was cru- 
elly treated, having the coarsest food, and not 
enough of that to satisfy the cravings of his appe- 
tite. Several difficulties occurred between Mr. 
Auld and Frederick, in consequence of which Mr. 
Auld sent him to Covey, a notorious "negro- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 2 1 

breaker " in the neighborhood, for discipline. 
He had not been long with Covey before he was 
subjected to the greatest cruelty. The details of 
one difficulty between them we give in Mr. Doug- 
lass' own language, as it serves to show the meth- 
ods pursued in " breaking " slaves, and at the 
same time furnishes an example of his powers of 
narration, for which he is especially distinguished. 
" Mr. Covey sent me, very early in the morning 
of one of our coldest days in the month of Janu- 
ary, to the woods, to get a load of wood. He 
gave me a team of unbroken oxen, telling me 
which was the inside ox, and which the off-hand 
one. He then tied the end of a large rope around 
the horns of the in-hand ox, and gave me the 
other end of it, and told me, if the oxen started 
to run, that I must hold on upon the rope. I had 
never before driven oxen, and of course I was 
very awkward. I, however, succeeded in getting 
to the edge of the woods with little difficulty, but 
I had got a very few rods into the woods, when 
the oxen took fright and started full tilt, carrying 
the cart against trees, and over stumps, in the 
most frightful manner. I expected every moment 
that my brains would be dashed out against the 
trees. After running thus for a considerable dis- 
tance, they finally upset the cart, dashing it with 
great force against a tree, and threw themselves 
into a dense thicket. How I escaped death, I do 



^2 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

not know. There I was, entirely alone, in a thick 
wood, in a place new to me. My cart was upset 
and shattered, my oxen were entangled among 
the young trees, and there was none to help me. 
After a long spell of effort, I succeeded in getting 
my cart righted, my oxen disentangled, and again 
yoked to the cart. I now proceeded with my 
team to the place where I had, the day before, 
been chopping wood, and loaded my cart pretty 
heavily, thinking in this way to tame my oxen. 
I then proceeded on my way home. I had now 
consumed one-half of the day. I got out of the 
woods safely, and now felt out of danger. I 
stopped my oxen to open the wooden gate ; and 
just as I did so, before I could get hold of my 
ox-rope, the oxen again started, rushed through 
the gate, catching it between the wheel and the 
body of the cart, tearing it to pieces, and coming 
within a few inches of crushing me against the 
gate-post. Thus twice, in one short day, I escaped 
death by the merest chance. On my return, I 
told Mr. Covey what had happened, and how it 
happened. He ordered me to return to the woods 
again immediately. I did so, and he followed on 
after me. Just as I got into the woods, he came 
up and told me to stop my cart, and that he 
would teach me how to trifle away my time, and 
break gates. He then went to a large gum-tree, 
and with his ax cut three large switches, and, 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 23 

after trimming them up neatly with his pocket- 
knife, he ordered me to take off my clothes. I 
made him no answer, but stood with my clothes 
on. He repeated his order. I still made him no 
answer, nor did I move to strip myself. Upon 
this he rushed at me with the fierceness of a 
tiger, tore off my clothes, and lashed me till he 
had worn out his switches, cutting me so savagely 
as to leave the marks visible for a long time after. 
This whipping was the first of a number just like 
it, and for similar offenses." 

After the affair just narrated, Frederick's suf- 
ferings were increased, and he was driven to such 
desperation by the treatment of Covey, that he 
determined to defend himself. In the next en- 
counter which they had Covey was handled so 
roughly by the young man that he never again 
raised his hand against him. This conflict with 
Covey had a most inspiring effect upon the 
youth. By resistance he asserted his manhood, 
increased his own self-respect, and confidence in 
himself. From this day on he was never whipped 
while in slavery, though he had several fights. 

Leaving Covey in January, 1834, Frederick 
went to live with Mr. William Freeland, whom he 
found to be a very good man. He for more than 
a year after that time conducted a Sabbath- 
school, where he taught his fellow slaves to read. 
He also devoted three evenings in each week to a 



24 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

similar purpose. While at Mr. Freeland's the 
following year he made up his mind to make an 
attempt to secure his liberty. He consulted with 
those slaves who he believed would be willing to 
co-operate in this movement with him. But they 
had in mind no definite place to which they could 
flee and enjoy their freedom. Mr. Douglass has 
beautifully and graphically described the thoughts 
that passed through their minds at the time they 
were planning to run away. Here is what he 
says : "At every gate through which we had to 
pass we saw a watchman ; at every ferry a guard ; 
on every bridge a sentinel, and in every wood a 
patrol or slave-hunter. We were hemmed in on 
every side. The good to be sought and the evil 
to be shunned were flung in the balance and 
weighed against each other. On the one hand 
stood slavery, a stern reality, glaring frightfully 
upon us, with the blood of millions in its polluted 
skirts, terrible to behold, greedily devouring our 
hard earnings and feeding upon our flesh. This 
was the evil from which to escape. On the other 
hand, far away, back in the hazy distance, where 
all forms seemed but shadows under the flicker- 
ing light of the north star, behind some craggy 
hill or snow-capped mountain, stood a doubtful 
freedom, half frozen, beckoning us to her icy do- 
main. This was the good to be sought. The 
inequality was as great as that between certainty 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 25 

and uncertainty. This in itself was enough to 
stagger us; but when we came to survey the un- 
trodden road and conjecture the many possible 
difficulties, we were appalled, and at times, as I 
have said, were upon the point of giving over the 
struggle altogether. The reader can have little 
idea of the phantoms which would flit in such 
circumstances before the uneducated mind of the 
slave. Upon either side we saw grim death, as- 
suming a variety of horrid shapes. Now it was 
starvation, causing us, in a strange and friendless 
land, to eat our own flesh. Now we were con- 
tending with the waves and were drowned. Now 
we were hunted by dogs and overtaken, and torn 
to pieces by their merciless fangs. We were 
stung by scorpions, chased by wild beasts, bitten 
by snakes, and, worst of all, after having suc- 
ceeded in swimming rivers, encountering wild 
beasts, sleeping in the woods, suffering hunger, 
cold, heat, and nakedness, overtaken by hired 
kidnapers, who, in the name of law and for the 
thrice-cursed reward, would, perchance, fire upon 
us, kill some, wound others, and capture all. 
This dark picture, drawn by ignorance and fear, 
at times greatly shook our determination, and not 
unfrequently caused us to 

*' ' Rather bear the ills we had, 
Than flee to others which we knew not of.' " 

But just as they were about to start they found 



20 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

that the}'' had been betrayed, and their plans 
revealed. As a result of this discovery they 
were all bound with cords and driven off to the 
Easton jail. The slaveholders now demanded that 
Frederick be removed from the neighborhood. 
Captain Auld therefore sent him back to Balti- 
more to live with his brother Hugh, where he 
might learn a trade. Soon after going there he 
was hired to Mr. William Gardner, a ship builder, 
for the purpose of learning to calk vessels. He 
made no progress in the business at this place. 
The white apprentices thought it degrading to 
work with a slave, and on one occasion made an 
assault upon him. In the struggle which ensued 
Frederick, although bruised and severely beaten, 
resisted as best he could ; but at last had to yield 
because of the great numbers against him. He 
was afterwards hired to Mr. Walter Price, where 
he learned calking, and soon commanded the 
highest wages. 

During his leisure hours he reflected much 
upon his condition ; and the more he reflected, 
the more he hated slavery, and the more discon- 
tented he became. He therefore determined to 
make another attempt to secure his liberty, and, 
with this end in view, obtained from a friend a 
"Sailor's protection," which in this instance served 
the purpose of free papers. Disguised as a 
sailor, he left Baltimore, September 3, 183S, now 



Life of Frederick douglass. 57 

twenty-one years of age, and made his way to 
New York, where he was introduced to Mr. Rug- 
gles, secretary of the New York Vigilance Com- 
mittee. As soon as she could be sent for, his 
affianced wife, Anna, came on, and they were 
married by the Rev, J. W. C. Pennington, of 
the Presbyterian church. Acting upon the ad- 
vice of Mr. Ruggles, he went to New Bedford, 
and was kindly received by Mr. Nathan Johnson. 
In slavery Frederick's name was Frederick Au- 
gustus Bailey. At the suggestion of Mr. Johnson 
his name was now chano;ed to Frederick Doug- 
lass, by which title he has ever since been known. 
In New Bedford he found employment in putting 
away coal, sawing wood, moving rubbish, working 
on the wharves, and in a brass foundry ; and thus 
earned the means to support his family. It was 
here that he became a subscriber of Mr. Garri- 
son's paper, the Liberator. Mr. Douglass says 
this paper took the place in his heart, " second 
only to the Bible." Not long after subscribing 
for the Liberator^ he had the pleasure of hearing- 
Mr. Garrison himself, and from this time on en- 
tertained for the distinguished agitator the high- 
est admiration. By reading the Liberator he 
came in possession of the principles of the aboli- 
tion movement. The spirit that animated its 
friends in their efforts to put down human slavery 
had already been awakened within him. 



CHAPTER II. 

Career as an Anti-Slavery Agitator. — First 
Visit to Great Britain. 

On the nth of August, 1 841, an anti-slavery 
convention was held at Nantucket. Many dis- 
tinguished abolitionists were present, among 
whom was Mr. Garrison. Mr. Douglass had 
come to the convention that he might learn 
something further of the principles and measures 
of these reputed fanatics. Being invited to speak 
he at first declined to say anything. Urged by a 
friend, he at last came forward with great reluc- 
tance and embarrassment, and addressed the 
meeting. So great was the impression made 
upon the audience by his eloquent words, that it 
was the means of opening to him that field in 
which he has won so many laurels as a platform 
speaker and orator. Not long after this he was 
appointed a lecturing agent of the Anti-Slavery 
Society. 

In the same year he made speeches in Rhode 
Island, where an attempt was made to set aside 
the old colonial charter by a constitution in which 
was a provision to deprive colored men there of 
the elective franchise. At this time there were 
very strong prejudices against the negro in that 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 29 

state. Speaking of his work in Rhode Island, 
Mr. Douglass says : " In Grafton, I was alone, 
and there was neither house, hall, church, nor 
market-place in which I could speak to the peo- 
ple, but, determined to speak, I went to the hotel 
and borrowed a dinner bell, with which in hand I 
passed through the principal streets, ringing the 
bell and crying out, ' Notice ! Frederick Doug- 
lass, recently a slave, will lecture on American 
slavery, on Grafton common this evening at seven 
o'clock. Those who would like to hear of the 
great workings of slavery, by one of the slaves, 
are respectfully invited to attend.' This notice 
brought a large audience, after which the largest 
church in town was open to me." 

In what is known as the " hundred conven- 
tions," which in the year 1843 were held in New 
Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Ohio, Indiana, 
and Pennsylvania, Mr. Douglass took an active 
and leading part. He experienced the same dififi- 
culty in procuring places in which to speak, and 
often he was compelled to hold his meetings in 
the open air. A memorable meeting was held at 
Pendleton, Indiana. No building of any kind 
could be procured in which to hold the assem- 
blage, and consequently they convened in the 
woods near by, where an infuriated mob rushed 
upon and assaulted them. Mr. Douglass, in 
attempting to fight his way through the crowd. 



30 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

had his arm broken, was knocked down, and 
left unconscious by his cowardly assailants. At 
Buffalo, where one of these meetings was con- 
vened, he took part in a convention of colored 
men assembled about the same time to discuss 
questions of importance to the race. 

Mr. Douglass, some time after his speech at 
the Nantucket convention, wrote an account of 
his life and published it in pamphlet form. These 
pamphlets were widely circulated and read, and 
they, together with the addresses he had delivered 
as agent of the Anti-Slavery Society, attracted to 
himself the attention of the country. For this 
reason he was now in danger of being seized and 
carried back into slavery. With the view of 
avoiding the possibility of such a misfortune, he 
was induced to seek refuge abroad. 

The visit which Mr. Douglass at this time 
made to Great Britain was of much benefit to 
him, as it gave opportunity of seeing the great 
cities of the mother country, of studying the 
character of its people and their institutions, of 
hearing the great orators of the age, and of meet- 
ing many eminent literary and educated men. 
He heard in parliamentary debate, Cobden, Bright, 
Peel, Disraeli, O'Connell, Lord John Russell, 
Lord Brougham, and other renowned statesmen. 
Of all these distinguished men, he thought Lord 
Brougham the best speaker. He was kindly re- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 3 1 

ceivcd and hospitably entertained by eminent 
men in England, Scotland, and Ireland. On the 
7th of August, 1846, the World's Temperance 
Convention was held in Covent Garden Theater, 
London. To Mr. Douglass was extended an 
invitation to speak, with which he complied, his 
remarks having special reference to the condition 
of the colored people in the United States. 

A question of importance was being discussed 
in Scotland whither he now went. The Free 
Church there received contributions from slave- 
holders, and, by so doing, gave its sanction to 
slavery. This system was condemned by many 
of the leading men of Glasgow. Some undertook 
to defend in the name of the Bible not only this 
system but the holding of fellowship with slave- 
holders. Scotland was roused with excitement 
over the question. Much good resulted from the 
agitation which followed. Slavery was thoroughly 
discussed, and its pernicious practices exposed. 
To Mr. Douglass more than to any other at the 
time was given the credit of awakening the moral 
and religious sentiment of the people against the 
holding of human beings in bondage. Before his 
return to America, which soon after followed, 
some friends raised the money and purchased his 
freedom from his owner, Captain Auld of Mary- 
land, the amount charged being one hundred and 
fifty pounds sterling. 



CHAPTER III. 

Editor of the " North Star." — Connection 
WITH John Brown. 

On his return to the United States Mr. Doug- 
lass determined to establish a newspaper, his idea 
being that a newspaper in the hands of a colored 
man, if properly conducted, would greatly assist 
in creating public sentiment for the overthrow of 
slavery. At that time there was no newspaper in 
this country under the control of colored men, 
though at intervals efforts had been made to 
establish one. The name given to the paper 
which he subsequently published at Rochester, 
New York, was the North Star, but it was after- 
wards called Frederick Douglass Paper. The 
publication of this journal reached a large circu- 
lation and was a source of incalculable benefit to 
its founder. He was required to write editorials 
and other matter, and had, therefore, to inform 
himself upon the subjects about which he wrote. 
Much time was necessarily spent in reading and 
research, so that, under the circumstances, his 
paper was for him the very best educator. In his 
early anti-slavery life he was a disciple of Mr. 
Garrison and believed with him in the pro-slav- 
ery character of the constitution of the United 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 33 

States — that slavery could only be effectually 
destroyed by dissolving the union. He now held 
the opposite view, and ably defended his changed 
opinions through the columns of the North Star. 

In June, 1872, he suffered a severe loss. His 
house was burned down, and among the other 
losses he sustained was that of twelve volumes of 
his paper. These he has been able to replace 
only in part. The destruction of these volumes 
is not a loss to the editor alone ; it is also a loss 
to the country, for they contained some of his 
best thoughts upon many of the most important 
questions which were before the people from 
1848 to i860. 

Mr. Douglass during one winter delivered a 
course of lectures on Sunday evening of each 
week in Corinthian Hall, in Rochester, and these 
lectures contributed in creating a healthy anti- 
slavery sentiment in that city and western New 
York. In the midst of all these duties he also 
found time to act as conductor of the Under- 
ground railroad. It was his business to receive 
fugitive slaves, secrete them, raise means, and 
send them on to Canada. 

Soon after he began to publish his paper, he 
became acquainted with John Brown, then resid- 
ing in Springfield, Mass. Mr. Douglass on invi- 
tation visited that personage, who afterwards 
became so famous, and thus describes him : " In 



34 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

person he was lean, strong, and sinewy ; of the 
best New England mold, built for times of 
trouble, fitted to grapple with the flintiest hard- 
ships. Clad in plain American woolen, shod in 
boots of cowhide leather, and wearing a cravat of 
the same substantial material; under six feet high, 
less than a hundred and fifty pounds in weight, 
aged about fifty, he presented a figure straight 
and symmetrical as a mountain pine. His bear- 
ing was singularly impressive. His head was not 
large, but compact and high. His hair was 
coarse, strong, slightly gray, and closely trimmed, 
and grew low on his forehead. His face was 
smoothly shaved, and revealed a strong, square 
mouth, supported by a broad and prominent 
chin. His eyes were bluish gray, and in conver- 
sation they were full of light and fire. When on 
the street, he moved with a long, springing, race- 
horse step, absorbed in his own reflections, neither 
seeking nor shunning observation. Such was 
Captain Brown, whose name has now passed into 
history as one of the most marked characters and 
greatest heroes known to American fame." 

Mr. Brown explained the plan he had formed 
of freeing the bondmen of the South. It then 
was not his purpose to cause an insurrection of 
the slaves ; but he proposed that certain reliable 
men whom he would select and place at different 
points in the mountains of Virginia and Mary- 




From Harper's Weekly. Covyriirht, 1877, by Harper & Brr.the 



JOHN BROWN. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 35 

land, should go down into the lowlands, as oppor- 
tunity offered, and induce slaves to escape. These 
should then be sent to Canada through means 
which would be provided. This in substance 
was Mr. Brown's plan, Mr. Douglass was very 
much impressed with his visit to John Brown, 
and began to doubt that slavery could ever be 
destroyed by peaceful means. From this time on 
his speeches showed that this impression had 
become a firm belief. 

Nothing was attempted by Brown in this mat- 
ter till after the Kansas difficulty was settled. 
The two men continued friends from their very 
first acquaintance, and frequently exchanged 
visits. Just after the Kansas trouble Brown 
came to Rochester and remained with Mr. Doug- 
lass several weeks. While there he prepared a 
constitution which he intended should govern 
those associated with him. Mr. Douglass has 
now a copy of this constitution in Brown's own 
handwriting. It had been Brown's purpose to 
begin work in 1858, but, on account of the expos- 
ure of his plans by an Englishman whom he had 
met in Kansas, operations were postponed a year 
later. 

This year brought some changes in the original 
plans. Three weeks before he made his raid on 
Harper's Ferry, he wrote to Mr. Douglass to 
come to Chambersburg, Penn., as he wished to 



36 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

confer with him. The place selected for the 
meeting was an old stone quarry in the suburbs 
of the city. Thither Mr. Douglass went, taking 
with him Shields Green, a fugitive slave from 
South Carolina whom Brown had met at Mr. 
Douglass' house in Rochester. What took place 
in that memorable conference August 19, we will 
set forth in the exact language of Mr. Douglass 
as he has himself related it: " When I reached 
Chambersburg, a good deal of surprise was ex- 
pressed (for I was instantly recognized), that I 
should come there unannounced, and I was 
pressed to make a speech to them, with which in- 
vitation I readily complied. Meanwhile, I called 
upon Mr. Henry Watson, a simple-minded and 
warm-hearted man, to whom Captain Brown had 
imparted the secret of my visit, to show me the 
road to the appointed rendezvous. Watson was 
very busy in his barber's shop, but he dropped 
all and put me on the right track. I approached 
the old quarry very cautiously, for John Brown 
was generally well armed and regarded strangers 
with suspicion. He was there under the ban of 
the government, and heavy rewards were offered 
for his arrest, for offenses said to have been com- 
mitted in Kansas. He was passing under the 
name of John Smith. As I came near, he re- 
garded me rather suspiciously, but soon recog- 
nized me, and received me cordially. He had in 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 2>7 

his hand when I met him, a fishing-tackle, with 
which he had apparently been fishing in a stream 
hard by ; but I saw no fish, and I did not suppose 
he cared much for his ' fisherman's luck.' The 
fishing was simply a disguise, and was certainly a 
good one. He looked every way like a man of 
the neighborhood, and as much at home as any 
of the farmers around there. His hat was old, 
and storm beaten, and his clothing was about the 
color of the stone quarry itself — his then present 
hiding place. 

" His face wore an anxious expression, and he 
was much worn by thought and exposure. I felt 
that I was on a dangerous mission, and I was as 
little desirous of discovery as himself, though no 
reward had been offered for me. 

"We — Mr. Kagi, Captain Brown, Shields 
Green, and myself — sat down among the rocks 
and talked over the enterprise which was about to 
be undertaken. The taking of Harper's Ferry, of 
which Captain Brown had merely hinted before, 
was now declared as his settled purpose, and he 
wanted to know what I thought of it. I at once 
opposed the measure with all the arguments at 
my command. To me, such a measure would be 
fatal to running off slaves (as was the original 
plan), and fatal to all engaged in doing so. It 
would be an attack upon the federal government, 
and would array the whole country against us. 



38 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Captain Brown did most of the talking on the 
other side of the question. He did not at all 
object to rousing the nation ; it seemed to him 
that something startling was just what the nation 
needed. He had completely renounced his old 
plan, and thought that the capture of Harper's 
Ferry would serve as notice to the slaves that 
their friends had come, and as a trumpet to rally 
them to his standard. He described the place as 
to its means of defense, and how impossible it 
would be to dislodge him if once in possession. 
Of course I was no match for him in such matters, 
but I told him, and these were my words, that all 
his arguments, and all his descriptions of the 
place, convinced me that he was going into a per- 
fect steel trap, and that once in he would never 
get out alive ; that he would be surrounded at 
once and escape would be impossible. He was 
not to be shaken by anything I could say, but 
treated my views respectfully, replying that even 
if surrounded he would find means for cutting his 
way out ; but that would not be forced upon him ; 
he should have a number of the best citizens of 
the neighborhood as his prisoners at the start, 
and that holding them as hostages, he should be 
able if worse came to worse, to dictate terms of 
egress from the town. I looked at him with 
some astonishment that he could rest upon a 
reed so weak and broken, and told him that Vir- 



Life of Frederick douglass. 39 

ginia would blow him and his hostages sky-high, 
rather than that he should hold Harper's Ferry 
an hour. Our talk was long and earnest; we 
spent the most of Saturday and a part of Sunday 
in this debate — Brown for Harper's Ferry, and I 
against it ; he for striking a blow which should 
instantly rouse the country, and I for the policy 
of gradually and unaccountably drawing off slaves 
to the mountains, as at first suggested and pro- 
posed by him. When I found that he had fully 
made up his mind and could not be dissuaded, I 
turned to Shields Green and told him he heard 
what Captain Brown had said ; his old plan was 
changed, and that I should return home, and if 
he wished to go with me he could do so. Cap- 
tain Brown urged us both to go with him, but I 
could not do so, and could but feel that he was 
about to rivet the fetters more firmly than ever 
on the limbs of the enslaved. In parting he put 
his arms around me in a manner more than 
friendly, and said : ' Come with me, Douglass, I 
will defend you with my life. I want you for a 
special purpose. When I strike, the bees will 
begin to swarm, and I shall want you to help hive 
them.' But my discretion or my cowardice made 
me proof against the dear old man's eloquence — 
perhaps it was something of both which deter- 
mined my course. When about to leave I asked 
Green what he had decided to do, and was sur- 



40 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

prised by his coolly saying in his broken way, ' I 
b'leve I'll go wid de ole man.' Here we sepa- 
rated ; they to go to Harper's Ferry, and I to 
Rochester." 

On their way to Chambersburg Mr. Douglass 
and Shields Green stopped at Mrs. E. A. Glou- 
cester's in Brooklyn, August i8, who sent through 
Mr. Douglass to Captain Brown a letter and a 
small amount of money. The following is a 
copy of a letter signed by colored citizens of 
Philadelphia, which was found among the papers 
at the Kennedy farm, Brown's headquarters be- 
fore moving on to Harper's Ferry, and was sent 
to Mr. Douglass at Rochester in September : 
" F. D., Esq., Dear Sir, — The undersigned feel it 
to be of the utmost importance that our class be 
properly represented in a convention to come off 
right away (near) Chambersburg, in this state. 
We think you are the man of all others to repre- 
sent us ; and we severally pledge ourselves that 
in case you will come right on we will see your 
family well provided for during your absence, or 
until your safe return to them. Answer to us 
and to John Henrie, Esq., Chambersburg, Penn., 
at once. We are ready to make you a remit- 
tance, if you go. We have now quite a number 
of good but not very intelligent representatives 
collected. Some of our numbers are ready to go 
on with you." It was never known why this letter 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 4 1 

was sent to Mr. Douglass. He thinks, however, 
that the sending of it was prompted by Kagi, who 
was present at the Chambersburg interview, and 
had heard him say that he could not go to Har- 
per's Ferry in the way proposed. Kagi probably 
thought a letter signed as this was would induce 
Mr. Douglass to reconsider his determination 
and at last consent to accompany Brown. 

The report of the capture of Harper's Ferry 
was received by Mr. Douglass in Philadelphia, 
Information soon followed to the effect that 
Brown had been captured, and that a carpet bag 
had been found containing letters from abolition- 
ists, among which were some from Mr. Douglass. 
Leaving the city upon the advice of friends, Mr. 
Douglass went to New York. There he learned 
that the government intended to arrest all who 
had been in any way connected with the raid at 
Harper's Ferry. Alarmed at this intelligence he 
sent a message to his son Lewis at home to secure 
the important papers which were in his " high 
desk." Arriving at Rochester, he ascertained 
through Lieutenant Governor Selden, his neigh- 
bor, that the governor of New York would sur- 
render him upon legal demand by the gov- 
ernor of Virginia. Mr. Selden advised him to 
leave the country without delay. Canada being 
the nearest refuge, he went thither. Governor 
Wise, hearing that he had gone to Michigan, 



4Ji LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

made a demand upon the governor of that state 
for his detention and surrender to the Virginia 
authorities. The following letter, which was 
sent to Mr. Douglass by the historian, B. J. Loss- 
ing, after the war, shows that he acted wisely at 
the time in taking the advice of friends and thus 
putting himself beyond the danger of apprehen- 
sion : — 

(Confidential.) 

To His Excellency, James Buchanan, President of the United 
States, and to the Honorable Postmaster-General of the United 
States : — 

Gentlemen, — I have information such as has caused me, 
upon proper affidavit, to make requisition upon the executive 
of Michigan for the delivery up of the person of Frederick 
Douglass, a negro man, supposed now to be in Michigan, 
charged with murder, robbery, and inciting servile insurrection 
in the state of Virginia. My agents for the arrest and reclama- 
tion of the person so charged are Benjamin M. Morris and Will- 
iam N. K^elly. The latter has the requisition, and will wait on 
you to the end of obtaining nominal authority as post office 
agent. They need be very secretive in this matter, and some 
pretext for traveling through the dangerous section for the exe- 
cution of the law in this behalf, and some protection against 
obtrusive, unruly, or lawless violence. If it be proper so to do, 
will the postmaster-general be pleased to give to Mr. Kelly, for 
each of these men, a permit and authority to act as detectives 
for the post office department, without pay, but to pass and re- 
pass without question, delay, or hindrance ? 
Respectfully submitted by 

Your obedient servant, 

Henry A. Wise. 

It was evident that Mr. Douglass could not 
hope for a fair trial before a Virginia jury. He 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 43 

also doubtless felt that even in Canada he was 
not safe, for there was danger of being kidnaped 
and brought back to the United States ; hence 
he left for England on the 12th of the same 
month. He remained abroad six months, speak- 
ing upon anti-slavery and other subjects in Eng- 
land and Scotland, at the end of which time he 
was summoned home by the death of his daugh- 
ter Annie. 

Some were disposed to criticise Mr. Douglass 
for the course he pursued in the Harper's Ferry 
affair, and went so far as to assert that he 
deserted Brown on that occasion. It is no doubt 
true that these criticisms grew out of the reports 
telegraphed over the country, after the capture 
of Brown, in which Cook, one of Brown's men, 
was made to say that Mr. Douglass had promised 
to be present in person on this famous expedition. 
Mr. Douglass, before taking his departure for 
Europe, wrote a letter which was published in 
the Rochester Democrat and American, in which 
he emphatically denied these statements, thus 
attributed to Cook. The one sentence I quote is 
characteristic of the whole letter : " I therefore 
declare that there is no man living and no man 
dead who, if living, could truthfully say that I 
ever promised him or anybody else, either condi- 
tionally or otherwise, that I would be present in 
person at the Harper's Ferry insurrection." Mr. 



44 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Douglass, in this letter quoted from, also prom- 
ised at the proper time, when it could be done 
without comiDromising the friends of the slaves, 
to tell all he knew of the attempt of John Brown 
to liberate the bondmen of Virginia and Mary- 
land. As the country knows, he has faithfully 
kept that promise in a published statement giv- 
ing all the facts as far as he knew them. Subse- 
quent history also verifies what he wrote to the 
Rochester Democrat and America7i while in 
Canada. The recent publication of the Life and 
Letters of John Brown, by his friend, F. B. San- 
born, in which all the particulars of the foray at 
Harper's Ferry are given to the public, coincides 
with what Mr. Douglass has said. I quote Mr. 
Sanborn, page 418 : — 

"John Brown's long meditated plan of action 
in Virginia was wholly his own, as he more than 
once declared, and it was not until he had long 
formed and matured it, that he made it known to 
the few friends outside of his own household who 
shared his confidence in that matter. I cannot 
say how numerous these were, but beyond his 
family and the armed followers who accompanied 
him, I have never supposed that his Virginia 
plan was known to fifty persons. Even to those 
few it was not fully communicated, though they 
knew that he meant to fortify himself somewhere 
in the mountains of Virginia or Tennessee, and 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 45 

from that fastness, with his band of soldiers, sally 
out and emancipate slaves, seize hostages, and 
levy contributions on the slaveholders. More- 
over, from the time he first matured it, there 
were several changes, amounting at last to an 
entire modification of the scheme. As he declared 
it to me in 1858 in the house of Gerrit Smith at 
Peterboro, it was very different from the plan he 
had unfolded to Thomas and to that other Mary- 
land freedman, Frederick Douglass, at Brown's 
own house in Springfield in 1847." 

I believe there is no one who, in the light of 
developments, will say that Mr. Douglass acted 
in bad faith to John Brown. The interview at 
Chambersburg shows that Brown never lost con- 
fidence in his friend. Mr. Douglass never saw 
Cook, had no communication with him whatever. 
Even if Cook did say what was imputed to him, 
it can be shown by Brown himself that he was 
not always truthful. Brown, on his way to the 
scaffold, said to Cook, who had made a confession, 
" You have made false statements — that I sent 
you to Harper's Ferry ; you know I protested 
against your coming." 

The following statement, which recently ap- 
peared in a leading journal, will throw additional 
light upon the facts connected with the hurried 
departure of Mr. Douglass for Canada just after 
John Brown was taken at Harper's Ferry. 



46 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

" ' Yes, sir ; I am the man who saved Fred. 
Douglass' life when " Old John Brown " was cap- 
tured at Harper's Ferry. I suppressed a dispatch 
addressed to the sheriff of Philadelphia, instruct- 
ing him to arrest Douglass, who was then in that 
city, as proofs of his complicity in the memor- 
able raid were discovered when John Brown was 
taken into custody.' 

" Seated on the doorstep of his cozy cottage, 
a few miles outside of Vineland, New Jersey, was 
John W. Hurn, a pleasant, gray-bearded man of 
sixty, who, when questioned, answered as above 
respecting the aid rendered by him to the noted 
abolitionist, 

" ' At that time I was a telegraph operator 
located in Philadelphia,' continued Mr. Hurn, 
' and when I received the dispatch I was fright- 
ened nearly out of my wits. As I was an ardent 
admirer of the great ex-slave, I resolved to warn 
Douglass of his impending fate, no matter what 
the result might be to me. The news had 
just been spread throughout the country of the 
bold action of John Brown in taking Harper's 
Ferry. Everybody was excited and public feel- 
ing ran high. Before the intelligence came that 
Brown had been captured, the dispatch I have 
mentioned was sent by the sheriff of Franklin 
county, Penn., to the sheriff of Philadelphia, in- 
forming; him that Dousrlass had been one of the 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 47 

leading conspirators, and requesting that he 
should be immediately apprehended. 

" ' Though I knew it was illegal to do so, I 
quietly put the dispatch in my pocket, and, ask- 
ing another operator to take my place, started on 
my search for Fred. Douglass. I went directly 
to Miller McKim, the secretary of the contra- 
band, underground, fugitive railway office in 
Philadelphia, and inquired for my man. Mr. 
McKim hesitated to tell me, whereupon I showed 
him the dispatch and promised him not to allow 
it to be delivered within three hours. I told him 
I would not do this unless he agreed to get Mr. 
Douglass out of the states. This he readily 
assented to, for it was his business to spirit 
escaped slaves beyond the reach of the authori- 
ties. I returned to the telegraph office and kept 
a sharp lookout for similar dispatches. None 
arrived, however, and when the allotted time 
expired I sent the belated message to its destina- 
tion. 

" ' In the mean time those intrusted with my 
secret saw Mr. Douglass and urged him to leave 
the town as quickly as possible. He was loath to 
do so at first, but the expostulation of his friends 
overcame his objections, and in an hour he left 
on a railroad train. He reached his home in 
Rochester, New York, in safety, destroying the 
compromising documents, and then packed his 



48 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

gripsack and started for Canada. It was fortu- 
nate for him that he left so soon as he did, for 
immediately after his departure from Rochester 
his home was surrounded by officers.' " 

We take the liberty of quoting in this connec- 
tion for the information of the reader an incident 
which occurred in the early acquaintance of Mr. 
Douglass with Brown, related by a writer who 
styles himself the " Rambler," in an article pub- 
lished in a New England paper. 

" In the spring of '57, just after the Dred Scott 
decision of the Supreme Court, the Rambler (be- 
ing then a resident of Worcester, Mass., fondly 
called by the citizens ' The Heart of the Com- 
monwealth ') was getting up a lecture for Freder- 
ick Douglass. He secured the then mayor of the 
city to preside, it being the first time that the 
mayor of an American city had presided at an 
address of Mr. Douglass. The Rambler called 
at the house of Hon. Eli Thayer, then member of 
Congress from the ninth district, to ask him to 
sit on the platform. Here he found a stranger, 
a man of tall, gaunt form, with a face smooth 
shaven, destitute of the full beard that later be- 
came a part of history. The children were climb- 
ing over his knees ; he said, ' The children always 
come to me.' The Rambler was introduced to 
John Brown of Ossawatomie. How little one 
imagined then that, within less than three years. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 49 

the name of this plain, homespun man would fill 
America and Europe. 

" Mr. Brown kindly consented to occupy a place 
on the platform, and at the urgent request of the 
audience spoke briefly. It is one of the curious 
facts, that many men who can do it are utterly 
unable to tell about it. John Brown, a flame of 
fire in action, was dull in speech. How many 
men are a living flame on the platform, who are 
nowhere in action. John Brown taught the 
world one lesson among others. If a man fully, 
absolutely, believes what he says, and if he has 
laid aside all fear, so that death has no terrors for 
him, that man is a power, that man is to be 
feared." 



CHAPTER IV. 

Second Visit to England. — The War of the 
Rebellion. 

Mr. Douglass returned from England in time 
to take part in the great presidential campaign of 
i860. He entered into that contest with earnest- 
ness and enthusiasm, for he believed that it was a 
struggle which would decide the fate of slavery in 
the United States. Later on when the war had 
been in progress three years, and the government 
decided to accept colored volunteers, he became 
conspicuous for the support and encouragement 
he gave in the enlistment of colored troops. 
When Governor Andrew of Massachusetts was 
given authority by President Lincoln to put into 
the field two colored regiments, the 54th and 
55 th, Mr. Douglass made a most eloquent appeal 
through his paper to the colored people of the 
North to enlist. There being few colored men 
in Massachusetts, it was found necessary to go 
outside of that state to recruit. Mr. Douglass 
not only urged and induced others to go, but gave 
his two sons, Lewis and Charles, to the cause; 
the latter of whom was the first colored man to 
enlist in the state of New York. Some time 
later his third and last son, Frederick, Jr., also 
entered the service. 




ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 5 1 

It was proposed in Pennsylvania to raise ten 
regiments, and Mr. Douglass was again requested 
to give his assistance in the work of recruiting. 
He entered this service with the understanding 
that when they enlisted colored men should re- 
ceive the same treatment that was accorded to 
white soldiers. The government, however, did 
not do in this respect what was expected of it ; 
on which account Mr. Douglass, thoroughly dis- 
heartened, suspended his labors for a time. But 
finally, urged by Mr. Stearns, who had first sought 
his assistance in enlisting men, he went to Wash- 
ington and presented the matter to the president 
and secretary of war. He thus describes his first 
meeting with President Lincoln : " I shall never 
forget my first interview with this great man. I 
was accompanied to the executive mansion and 
introduced to President Lincoln by Senator 
Pomeroy. The room in which he received vis- 
itors was the one now used by the president's 
secretaries. I entered it with a moderate esti- 
mate of my own consequence, and yet there I was 
to talk with, and even to advise, the head of a 
great nation. Happily for me there was no vain 
pomp and ceremony about him. I was never 
more quickly or more completely put at ease in 
the presence of a great man than in that of Abra- 
ham Lincoln. He was seated, when I entered, in 
a low arm-chair, with his feet extended on the 



5^ 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 



floor, surrounded by a large number of docu- 
ments and several busy secretaries. The room 
bore the marks of business, and the persons in it, 
the president included, appeared to be much 
overworked and tired. Long lines of care were 
already deeply written on Mr. Lincoln's brow, and 
his strong face, full of earnestness, lighted up as 
soon as my name was mentioned. As I ap- 
proached and was introduced to him, he rose and 
extended his hand, and bade me welcome. I at 
once felt myself in the presence of an honest 
man — one whom I could love, honor, and trust 
without reserve or doubt. Proceeding to tell him 
who I was, and what I was doing, he promptly 
but kindly stopped me, saying, ' I know who you 
are, Mr. Douglass. Mr. Seward has told me all 
about you. Sit down ; I am glad to see you.' I 
then told him the object of my visit ; that I was 
assisting to raise colored troops ; that several 
months before I had been very successful in get- 
ting men to enlist, but that now it was not easy 
to induce the colored men to enter the service, 
because there was a feeling among them that the 
government did not deal fairly with them in sev- 
eral respects. Mr. Lincoln asked me to state 
particulars. I replied that there were three par- 
ticulars which I wished to bring to his attention. 
First, that colored soldiers ought to receive the 
same wages as those paid to white soldiers. Sec- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 53 

end, that colored soldiers ought to receive the 
same protection when taken prisoners, and be 
exchanged as readily, and on the same terms, as 
other prisoners, and if Jefferson Davis should 
shoot or hang colored soldiers in cold blood, the 
United States government should retaliate in 
kind and degree without delay upon Confederate 
prisoners in its hands. Third, when colored sol- 
diers, seeking the ' bauble reputation at the can- 
non's mouth,' performed great and uncommon 
service on the battlefield, they should be rewarded 
by distinction and promotion precisely as white 
soldiers are rewarded for like services." 

Mr. Lincoln was impressed with the argument 
of Mr. Douglass, and in his reply spoke encour- 
agingly of the intentions of the administration. 
After this interview with the president, and a 
subsequent one with Secretary Stanton, Mr. 
Douglass felt encouraged and went away feeling 
assured that the government would, as fast as con- 
ditions warranted, deal justly by the colored soldier. 

He was one of the crowd that listened to the 
second inauguration address of President Lin- 
coln. In the evening of the same day he at- 
tended the president's reception. No colored 
person had hitherto presented himself on such an 
occasion. When conducted to the president's 
room, Mr. Lincoln received him with marks of 
great respect and attention. 



CHAPTER V. 

Continued Literary Efforts. — Freedmen's 
Bank. — Official Career in Washington. — 
Visit to his Old Maryland Home. 

After the war closed and the country had re- 
turned to pursuits of peace, Mr. Douglass began 
to think of what calling he should follow. His 
great life work, the abolition of slavery, had been 
accomplished, and it seemed that now there was 
little for him to do. He had about made up his 
mind to spend the remainder of his days in farm- 
ing, when invitations came to him to deliver lec- 
tures before colleges and literary societies. Thus 
a new vocation was opened to him, by which he 
might improve his knowledge and better his 
pecuniary condition. While employed by the 
Anti-Slavery Society he had been paid a salary of 
^450 a year, now he was offered ^100 and often 
$200 for one lecture. 

Mr. Douglass early saw that the greatest pro- 
tection of the colored man after emancipation 
would be the ballot — in fact, it would prove his 
only safety ; he, therefore, was among the very 
first to begin the agitation of the question, suf- 
frage for the negro. This question was discussed 
in the National Loyalists' Convention, which was 





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U. S. GRANT. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 55 

held in Philadelphia in 1866. Mr. Douglass, as a 
delegate from Rochester, attended this gathering 
and made an earnest speech, urging a free and 
untrammeled ballot to all citizens of the country. 
The convention, though divided at first in opin- 
ion, before it adjourned passed resolutions favor- 
ing the enfranchisement of the freedman. The 
question grew rapidly in public favor. President 
Grant recommended the measure to Congress, 
and erelong the ballot was made secure to the 
negro by the adoption of the 15th amendment to 
the constitution. 

In the year 1869, having been induced by some 
friends, Mr. Douglass came to Washington and 
established the New National Era newspaper. 
This paper was finally turned over to his sons, 
Lewis and Frederick. 

About this time he was elected president of the 
Freedmen's Bank, an institution intended as a 
secure depository for the savings of the colored 
people. The intentions of the founders of this 
organization were no doubt good, but by bad 
management the bank was brought to ruin. Mr. 
Douglass had previously been elected a trustee 
of this corporation, while residing in Rochester, 
and had attended a few of its meetinc^s, but he 
knew nothing personally of its true condition. 
He himself says: "About four months before this 
splendid institution was compelled to close its 



56 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

doors in the starved and deluded faces of its 
depositors, and while I was assured by its presi- 
dent and by its secretary of its sound condition, I 
was solicited by some of its trustees to allow them 
to use my name in the board as a candidate for 
its presidency. So I waked up one morning to 
find myself seated in a comfortable arm-chair, 
with gold spectacles on my nose, and to hear 
myself addressed as President of the Freedmen's 
Bank. I could not help reflecting on the con- 
trast between Frederick the slave boy, running 
about at Colonel Lloyd's with only a tow linen 
shirt to cover him, and Frederick, president of a 
bank, counting its assets by millions. I had 
heard of golden dreams, but such dreams had no 
comparison with this reality. And yet this seem- 
ing reality was scarcely more substantial than a 
dream. My term of service on this golden height 
covered only the brief space of three months." 
Mr. Douglass, when he found out by careful in- 
vestigation the facts in reference to the condition 
of the bank, to use his own words, when he dis- 
covered that he was " married to a corpse," he 
immediately went before the Senate Finance 
Committee, of which Hon. John Sherman was 
chairman, and gave it as his opinion that the 
bank was insolvent and could not recover from 
its losses. The committee took the same view 
and immediately three commissioners were ap- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 57 

pointed by Congress to wind up the affairs of the 
company. 

Mr. Douglass was sent by President Grant 
with Messrs. Wade, Howe, and White, commis- 
sioners to Hayti. He took the position with 
General Grant in favor of annexation of that 
country to the United States. Mr. Sumner cham- 
pioned the opposite view in the Senate and held 
that annexation meant the extinction of the Hay- 
tian people as such. Mr. Douglass held that a 
union would give protection to the weaker state 
and prosperity beyond what it could ever enjoy 
as a separate government. On this question the 
opinion of the country was divided. There were 
strong arguments used for and against the scheme. 

In the year 1872 General Grant was nominated 
a second time for the presidency. The indepen- 
dent republicans, dissatisfied with his administra- 
tion, nominated Horace Greeley. In the national 
convention of colored men held in New Orleans 
in the same year, over which Mr. Douglass pre- 
sided, an effort was made to get that body to 
indorse the independent candidate. Mr. Doug- 
lass used his influence to prevent such action, 
and had he not been present it is probable that 
the convention would have passed resolutions 
indorsing Mr. Greeley for the presidency. Hav- 
ing been chosen an elector at large of the state 
of New York on the Republican ticket, he v/as 



58 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

commissioned by the electoral college of the 
state to carry the vote to the capitol at Wash- 
ington. 

Mr. Douglass had been appointed by President 
Grant in his first term a member of the council 
of the District of Columbia, but was compelled, by 
the pressure of other duties, to resign after a 
short time, and his son Lewis was appointed to 
the position. When Mr. Hayes became presi- 
dent, he appointed Mr. Douglass marshal of the 
district. Immediately a great cry was made 
against this act of the president, and representa- 
tives of the bar appeared before the Senate com- 
mittee for the purpose of defeating his confirma- 
tion. Mr. Conkling, then a member of the Senate, 
in executive session, made an able speech in sup- 
port of Mr. Douglass. Other members came to 
his aid, and the Senate promptly confirmed the 
appointment. One of the objections made to 
Mr. Douglass holding the office of marshal was 
that he would be required to introduce guests to 
the president on state occasions. But this duty 
did not by law devolve upon that officer. The 
president could as well designate any other officer 
at the capital to perform such service. Mr. 
Douglass did, however, introduce to President 
ria3^es during his term of office many distin- 
guished persons, and he on such occasions was 
always treated with the greatest courtesy by this 




RUTHERFORD B. HAYES. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 59 

chief magistrate. Great credit should be given 
Mr. Hayes for the courage he displayed in ap- 
pointing Mr. Douglass in opposition to the wishes 
of the pro-slavery sentiment of the District, and 
that he could not be induced to revoke the ap- 
pointment. 

It had long been the cherished desire of Mr. 
Douglass to visit his old Maryland home. Dur- 
ing slavery times he did not think it safe to gratify 
his wishes in this respect. The opportunity to 
do so, however, presented itself while he was 
holding this office. He went first to St. Michael's 
upon the invitation of Mr. Charles Caldwell, a 
colored man. Arriving there he was invited by 
his old master, Captain Auld, now eighty years 
of age, to visit him, he at this time being on his 
deathbed. When Mr. Douglass entered the 
room in which the sick man lay, the captain ad- 
dressed him as Marshal Douglass and treated 
him with great respect. The interview was a 
most affecting one, but lasted only a few minutes, 
owincr to the w^eak condition of the ao'ed veteran. 

o o 

Mr. Douglass while in this neighborhood also vis- 
ited the Eastern jail, where in youth he had been 
confined with other slaves for attempting to run 
away from their masters. 

He some time after paid a visit to the Lloyd 
plantation in Talbot county, which he left when 
he was only eight years old, in 1825. He thgrg 



6o LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

met with the kindest reception from the Lloyds, 
who were still living on the premises. He was 
entertained in the old family mansion ; was es- 
corted over the grounds, saw the buildings, many 
of them standing just as he was accustomed to 
see them in former times. He conversed with 
many of the colored people who were children 
when he was a boy, and whom he then knew; 
looked into the kitchen where he had last seen 
his mother, and his eyes grew dim with tears. He 
visited the family burying-ground, and while there 
Mr. Howard Lloyd kindly presented him a bou- 
quet of flowers, taken from the graves of those he 
had known in his childhood days. 

Mr. Douglass, on Decoration day, May 30, 
1 88 1, was invited to deliver his lecture on John 
Brown at Storer College, an institution established 
in the interest of the colored race at Harper's 
Ferry, West Virginia. On Ihe platform sat An- 
drew J. Hunter, who was the prosecuting attorney 
when the old hero was convicted. He applauded 
parts of the lecturer's remarks heartily. Truly the 
times had changed, and the sentiments and feel- 
ings of that community had changed with them. 

When Mr. Garfield, in 1S81, became president, 
Mr. Douglass was appointed recorder of deeds 
of the District of Columbia, which position he 
held till the appointment of Mr. James C. Mat- 
thews, in the spring of 1886. 




JAMES A. GARFIELD. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Banquet in Recognition of his Public Serv- 
ices. — The Douglass in his Hall. 

On the first of January, 1883, the twentieth 
anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a 
banquet was tendered Hon. Frederick Douglass, 
in recognition of his high personal attainments, 
and of his eminent public services in behalf of 
his race and humanity, at Freund's, Washington, 
D. C. The entertainment was not only a social 
event of unusual interest, but one worthy of the 
occasion. No more brilliant array of talent has 
ever assembled to do honor to a great man of our 
race. The tables were beautifully decorated, and 
laden with the choicest viands. They were so 
arranged as to group the company about the 
distinguished guest, who sat at the head of the 
central table. There were present doctors of 
divinity, bishops, lawyers, doctors of medicine, 
members of Congress and northern state legisla- 
tures, professors of colleges, authors, and editors 
of newspapers. 

After prayer by Bishop John M. Brown, the 
company sjDent two hours in partaking of the 
excellent dinner placed before them. It was ten 
o'clock when ex-Senator Bruce introduced Mr. 



62 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Douglass in an appropriate and eulogistic ad- 
dress, closing with these words : " I now, gentle- 
men, have the honor to present to you Frederick 
Douglass, the distinguished guest of this happy 
occasion, whose fame as an orator and an earnest 
and effective worker in the cause of human lib- 
erty is not confined to one continent, but known 
throughout the civilized world, and whose name 
is a household word, cherished and loved by mil- 
lions who, from writhing under the cruel chains 
of slavery, have at last been brought into the 
bright sunlight of freedom. He will now respond 
to the toast, ' The Day,' this, the twentieth anni- 
versary of the one fixed by the sainted Lincoln, 
when the Emancipation Proclamation should go 
into full force and effect." 

In responding to the sentiment Mr. Douglass 
said : — 

" Mr. President and gentlemen, since you have 
taken me into your confidence, my life, as most of 
you know, was begun under a great shadow. 
Before I was made part of this breathing world 
the chains were forged for my limbs, and the whip 
of a slave master was plaited for my back, and 
while I have labored and suffered in the cause of 
justice and liberty, I have no doleful words to 
utter here to-night. It was said of a great Irish 
orator, speaking of Irish liberty, that he had 
rocked it in its cradle and had followed it to its 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 63 

grave. I can say of the colored man's liberty, I 
have rocked it in its cradle and witnessed its 
manhood, for I stand to-night in the presence of 
emancipated millions. He v/ould be a gloomy 
man indeed who could live to see the desire of his 
soul accomplished, and yet spend his life in grief. 
I am happy to say now and here that while my 
life has been more of cloud than sunshine, more 
of storm than calm, it has nevertheless been a 
cheerful life, with many compensations on every 
hand, and not the least among those compensa- 
tions, I reckon the good word and will which 
have come to me on the present occasion. This 
high festival of ours is coupled with a day which 
we do well to hold in sacred and everlasting 
honor, a day memorable alike in the history of 
the nation and in the life of an emancipated peo- 
ple. This is the twentieth anniversary of the 
proclamation of emancipation by Abraham Lin- 
coln — a proclamation which made the name of its 
author immortal and glorious throughout the 
civilized world. That great act of his marked an 
epoch in the life of the whole American nation. 
Reflection upon it opens to us a vast wilderness 
of thought and feeling. Man is said to be an 
animal looking before and after. To him alone 
is given the prophetic vision, enabling him to dis- 
cern the outline of his future through the mists 
and shadows of the past. The day we celebrate 



64 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

affords us an eminence from which we may in a 
measure survey both the past and the future. It 
is one of those days which may well count for a 
thousand years. 

" Until this day twenty years ago there was a 
vast incubus on the breast of the American peo- 
ple, which baffled all the wisdom of American 
statesmanship. Slavery, the sum of all villainies, 
like a vulture, was gnawing at the republic. Until 
this day there stretched away behind us an awful 
chasm of darkness and despair of more than two 
centuries. Until this day the American slave, 
bound in chains, tossed his fettered hands on high 
and groaned for freedom's gift in vain. Until 
this day the colored people of the United States 
lived in the shadow of death, hell, and the grave, 
and had no visible future. 

" 'Agonized heart throbs convulsed them while sleeping, 

And the wind whispered death, while over them sweeping.' " 

" Until this day we knew not when or how 
the war for the union would end ; until this day 
it was doubtful whether liberty and union would 
triumph, or slavery and barbarism. Until this 
day victory had largely followed the arms of the 
Confederate army. Until this day the mighty 
conflict between the North and South appeared 
to the eye of the civilized world, as destitute of 
moral qualities. Until this day the sympathies of 
the world were largely in favor of the Southern 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 65 

rebellion. Until this day the man of sable hue 
had no country and no glory. Until this day he 
was not permitted to lift a sword, to carry a gun, 
or wear the United States uniform. Until this 
day the armies of the republic fought the rebels 
in fetters, for they fought for slavery as well as 
for the union. Until this day we presented the 
spectacle of that weakness, indecision, and blind- 
ness which builds up with one hand while it tears 
down with the other. Until this day we fought 
the rebels with only one hand, while we chained 
and pinioned the other behind us. On this day, 
twenty years ago, thanks to Abraham Lincoln 
and the great statesmen by whom he was sup- 
ported, this spell of blasted hopes and despair, 
this spell of inconsistency and weakness, was 
broken, and our government became consistent, 
logical, and strong, for from this hour slavery was 
doomed, liberty made certain, and the union estab- 
lished. 

" We do well to commemorate this day. It was 
the first gray streak of morning after a long and 
troubled night of all abounding horrors. 

" The future as Vv^ell as the past claims consid- 
eration on this day. Freedom has brought duties, 
responsibilities, and created expectations which 
must be fulfilled. There is no disguising the 
fact that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, 
and, if we maintain our high estate in this repub- 



66 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

lie, we must be something more than driftwood 
in a stream. We must keep pace with the nation 
in all that goes to make a nation great, glorious, 
and free. Natural equality we have long pleaded, 
and righteously, but now that the fetters are off, 
we must be able to plead practical equality, equal- 
ity of industry, equality of morality, equality of 
education, equality of wealth, equality of general 
attainments. I hardly need say here that to all 
this there are formidable obstacles and discour- 
agements ; that we have entered the race of civil- 
ization at an immense disadvantage is manifest to 
the candid judgment of all men. No people ever 
entered the portals of freedom under circum- 
stances more unpropitious than the American 
freedmen. They were flung overboard on an 
unknown sea in the midst of a storm, without 
planks, ropes, oars, or life preservers, and told they 
must swim or perish. They were without money, 
without friends, without shelter, and without 
bread. The land which they had watered with 
their tears, enriched with their blood, tilled with 
their hard hands, was owned by their enemies. 
They were told to leave their old quarters and 
seek food and shelter elsewhere. In view of this 
condition of things the marvel is not so much 
that they have made little progress, but that they 
are not exterminated. I regret to observe that 
even colored men are heard to deny that any 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 67 

improvement has taken place in their condition 
during the last twenty years. How they can do 
this I am utterly unable to see. Twenty years 
ago there was perhaps not a single schoolhouse 
for colored children in the Southern states. Now 
there are two hundred thousand colored children 
regularly attending school in those states. 

" That fact, which does not stand alone, is suffi- 
cient to refute all the gloomy stories of croakers 
as to the progress of the colored freedmen of the 
South. The trouble with these croakers is that 
they do not consider the point of the freedmen's 
departure. They know the heights which they 
have still to reach, but do not measure the depths 
from which they have come. 

" Twenty years, though a long time in the life of 
an individual, is but a moment in the life of a 
nation, and no final judgment can be predicated 
of facts transpiring within that limited period. 

" For one, I can say in conclusion that nothing 
has occurred within these twenty years which has 
dimmed my hopes or caused me to doubt that the 
emancipated people of this country will avail 
themselves of their opportunities ; and by enter- 
prise, industry, invention, discovery, and manly 
character vindicate the confidence of their friends, 
and put to silence and to shame the gloomy pre- 
dictions of all their enemies." 

At the conclusion of the remarks of Mr. Doug- 



68 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

lass rapturous applause followed, many of the 
guests rising from their seats and coming for- 
ward to congratulate the venerable orator. After 
a few minutes the speaking continued. The fol- 
lowing gentlemen, in short speeches, responded 
to sentiments : Hon. John R. Lynch of Mis- 
sissippi, Colored Men in the South ; Hon. John 
P. Green of the Ohio legislature. The Colored 
Man as a Legislator ; Rev. B. T. Tanner, D.D,, 
The Negro Press ; Hon. George W. Williams, 
The Negro Author ; T. Thomas Fortune of the 
New York Globe, Independent Journalism; Prof. 
R. T. Greener, The Negro's Adherence to the 
Republican Party; Hon. Robert Smalls of South 
Carolina, The Exodus from the South; Prof. 
J. M. Gregory, The Color Line ; Bishop John M. 
Brown, The A. M. E. Church ; William E. Mat- 
thews, The Orator and Orators ; Dr. John R. 
Francis, The Profession of Medicine ; Jesse Law- 
son, Our Presiding Officer; J. B. Devaux, The 
Ladies ; E. M. Hewlett, Life Insurance, its Ne- 
cessity ; G. W. Cook, Howard University; Judge 
Samuel Lee of South Carolina, Co-operation 
J. H. Green of Mississippi, The Slater Fund 
R. J. Smith, Disunion, Consequent Weakness 
W. H. Richards, The Profession of the Law 
Joseph Brooks, William Lloyd Garrison ; Dr. 
E. W. Blyden, The Republic of Liberia. 

At one time while the speaking was in progress 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 69 

Mr. Douglass became so impressed with what 
was said that he rose of his own accord and 
delivered one of his old time speeches, full of fiery 
eloquence, in which he contrasted his past life 
with that of the young men before him, and con- 
cluded his impromptu remarks with an earnest 
appeal to the youth to make the most of their 
opportunities, show themselves worthy of the 
great privileges they enjoy and equal to the de- 
mands of the age. As soon as Mr. Douglass had 
resumed his seat Professor R. T. Greener pro- 
posed three cheers for the " Old Man Eloquent," 
which were given with a hearty good will. 

Before the company separated. Dr. B. T. Tan- 
ner of the Chris tiaji Recorder approached Mr. 
Charles R. Douglass, son of the guest of the even- 
ing, and, in the hearing of the writer, made this 
remark which we think will prove of prophetic 
import : " From the fact that this company is made 
up chiefly of young men, we may conclude that 
the future of your venerable father is secure. He 
who can command the fealty of the men of his 
own generation is only secure in his reputation 
while they survive ; but he who has the strength 
or fitness to command the fealty of the genera- 
tion coming immediately after him, may count 
the future as secure." 

Thus the entertainment was agreeably pro- 
longed by speaking and conversation, till^the late- 



70 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

ness of the hour brought the proceedings to a 
close, and the guests retired feehng that they had 
spent a pleasant and profitable evening. 



CHAPTER VII. 

Visit Abroad. — Return Home and Reception. 
— Minister Resident and Consul Gen- 
eral TO Hayti. 

For some time prior to his retirement from 
public office, Mr. Douglass had contemplated a 
trip to Great Britain and other countries of the 
old world. He desired to know more of their peo- 
ple, their government, and institutions. Being 
released from the cares and responsibilities im- 
posed by official life, he gladly welcomed the 
opportunity to revisit the scenes of his first two 
journeys abroad, and to extend his travels to 
classic Athens, historic Rome, Paris, the most 
elegant city of the world, free Switzerland, the 
home of the legendary hero, William Tell, Ger- 
many, the country of scholars, and Egypt, the 
land of pyramids and hieroglyphics. Having 
made all preparations for the voyage, he and Mrs. 
Douglass, in September, 1886, left New York for 
Liverpool on the steamer City of Rome. 

He returned to the United States after a year s 
absence, and on his arrival in Washington was 
tendered a public reception by his fellow citizens 
in the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal 
Church of that city, one of the largest and most 



72 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

handsome edifices owned by colored people in 
the country. The church, beautifully and taste- 
fully decorated with flags and bunting, was illu- 
minated with lights of various colors. Rev. Dr. 
T. G. Stewart presided. After music by the 
choir of the church. Rev. Walter Brooks recited 
the following original poem: — 

ODE OF WELCOME. 
Honor the statesman now returning 
From the shores of France and Spain, 
From the British Isles and mainland. 
To his native home again. 

Honor the man whose potent speeches 
In the world both old and new. 
Now for him a fame undying 
Made the bondman friends most true. 

Honor the old man in his glory, 
Read the story of his life. 
Tell it to your sons and daughters 
Till they feel the bitter strife. 

Strife for freedom, land, and manhood. 
Strife for all the rights of men, 
Hold him up the friend of letters. 
In his threescore years and ten. 

Hold him up a people's leader, 
In the struggle which we wage 
'Gainst oppression dark and cruel. 
Honor him, the prince and sage. 

Honor him, and hail him welcome. 
Welcome Frederick Douglass here, 
Where he made long fight for freedom, 
Wielding tongue of fire e'er. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 73 

Honor him with shouts of gladness, 
Bid the nation honor, too. 
For in him the cause of justice 
Finds a champion strong and true. 

Champion of the rights of all men, 
What their color, what their clime, 
Does not matter — he is loyal. 
Honor him, the Old Sublime ! 

Honor to him and praise Jehovah, 
Who from bondage called him out. 
To deliver from their thraldom 
Christ's own people, true, devout. 

Honor him, though seeing never, 
Angels sent to break his chains. 
Bidding him to flee his serfdom. 
And command a living name. 

Angels sent to guide his footsteps 
And to clothe his tongue with speech. 
Touch his heart with fire from heaven. 
While he freedom bravely preach. 

Honor him, God's chosen prophet. 
Sent against his people vile, 
Who for sordid gain in barter. 
Did themselves with blood defile. 

Blood of their own brothers bleeding. 
Bleeding under chain and lash, 
As they toiled and prayed and waited. 
Freedom's coming, slavery's crash. 

Honor him, the people's hero, 
Praying God might make it plain 
That the blow he struck for freedom 
Was God's wrath unloosed again. 



74 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Wrath that burned like fire consuming, 
Till this nation rent in twain, — 
On the issue denouncing bondage, 
With its blood washed out the stain. 

Mr. Brooks having concluded his poem, which 
throughout the recital pleased and entertained 
the audience, Professor W. S. Montgomery, in 
scholarly language, made the opening address, and 
then Rev. C. W. Handy welcomed the distin- 
guished guest in the following eloquent words: — 

" Mr. Douglass, permit me on behalf and in the 
name of your fellow citizens, not only of the Dis- 
trict of Columbia, but of our common country, to 
most cordially congratulate you upon your safe 
return to the land of your home, to the scenes of 
your labors, the old arena of your almost match- 
less triumphs. 

" Honored sir, we come to greet you, we come to 
talk and have you talk with us, we come as old 
friends, as good neighbors, to shake your honest 
hand and to congratulate you on your return 
home from England, France, Germany, from all 
Europe, from Egypt and the dark continent. 
Again, sir, we welcome you to your home, your 
family, and to your friends. Long may you live, 
far and wide may your influence and usefulness 
be felt, ever may you be under the fostering care 
of the great I Am, until time with you shall emerge 
into the ocean of eternity. I now take great pleas- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, 75 

ure in introducing to you Hon. Frederick Doug- 
lass." 

So hearty and continued was the applause after 
Mr. Handy's address, that it was some minutes be- 
fore Mr. Douglass could proceed with his address. 
At length quiet being restored he came forward 
and said : — 

" Friends, this is indeed an honor which I had 
not expected. I am certainly a very proud man 
to-night. Who would not be proud at such a 
grand ovation as this ? I thank you with all my 
heart ; you want to hear something about my trip 
to Europe and to Egypt, etc. Well, I will com- 
mence at the starting point. The passage from 
New York to Liverpool on the splendid steamer 
City of Rome, the largest ship afloat except the 
Great Eastern, was exceedingly pleasant. The 
winds and waves were in theirmost amiable mood, 
and we made the voyage from land to land in seven 
days. In nothing has there been more progress 
and improvement than in naval architecture and 
in navigation. Five and forty years ago fourteen 
days was a short trip from New York to Liver- 
pool — now it can be made in six days. Fifty 
years ago the great scientist, Dyonisius Lardner, 
proved by facts and figures to his own satisfac- 
tion, that no vessel could carry enough coal to 
propel her across the Atlantic, but theories amount 
to nothing against facts accomplished. The City 



76 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

of Rome consumes a ton of coal every five min- 
utes during her voyages. She has sixty furnaces 
and a crew, including all hands, of two hundred 
and fifty persons. To walk her decks is like 
walking a populous street ; she is a small town, 
not on wheels, but on the waves. Our voyage to 
Liverpool was marked by two incidents in which 
you will be interested, since they illustrate the 
gradual wearing away of race prejudice. There 
was on board the Rev. Henry Wayland, son of 
the great Dr. Wayland, late president of Brown 
University. Mr. Wayland had known me years 
ago, and had been my friend in Rochester. He 
is one of God's freemen. Through him I was 
made known to many of the passengers, and this 
resulted in a strong invitation to address the pas- 
sengers in the saloon, with which I complied. 
After this I was called upon by Capt. Monroe to 
move a vote of thanks in a brief speech to Lord 
Porchester, who had presided at a concert given 
in the grand saloon by some talented musicians ; 
thus my privacy was at an end, and I had much 
talking to do which I could not avoid. The con- 
trast between the treatment I received during this 
voyage and that of forty years ago, was as strik- 
ing as it was gratifying. Then I could not obtain 
a first-class passage — even on a British steamship 
— and was compelled to go in the forward cabin. 
Now I found myself not only welcome in the first 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. *]*] 

cabin, but treated by everybody with special marks 
of interest and esteem. It is true, that although 
I belonged in the forward cabin forty years ago, 
I made many friends during that voyage, and was 
then, as on the late voyage, invited to deliver an 
address on the saloon deck of the Cambria, but I 
did not comply till invited to do so by the cap- 
tain. There were several slaveholders on board, 
and a number of dough-faces from the North. I 
had hardly been speaking ten minutes when one 
of the wildest, bitterest, and most devilish rows 
occurred that I ever saw. It was only put down 
by the captain calling upon the boatswain to bring 
up the irons and threatening to put anyone in 
irons who dared to disturb me. A most unfair 
account of this outbreak of pro-slavery violence 
has gone into the history of the Cunard line, de- 
nouncing me as the cause of the disturbance on 
the same principle that the slaves used to be 
denounced as the cause of the war. The fact is, 
slaveholders at that time were dictators on sea 
and land, and the Cunard line, although flying the 
British flag, found it for their interest to yield to 
slaveholding dictation, but I believe I am the last 
man of color proscribed on the Cunard line. I 
made such a noise in England about it at the time 
that Samuel Cunard himself publicly declared 
that there should be no more proscription on his 
ships on account of race and color. Contempla- 



78 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

tion of the forces of nature is enlarging. Stand- 
ing on the deck of the City of Rome, and moving 
among its company of passengers so unHke in 
appearance and character, and then looking out 
upon the broad, dashing billows of the Atlantic, 
suggested to my mind the formula that the types 
of mankind are various. They differ like the 
waves, but are one like the sea. 

The Home Rule Question. 
The features of England are too well known to 
justify me in saying much about my sojourn in 
that country. It is common nowadays to speak 
of England as a declining power in comparison 
with the rest of the world, and there may be truth 
in that representation, but the American who 
travels there will see nothing on the surface to 
justify that conclusion. Great Britain, though 
small in territory and limited in population, as 
compared with our republic, is still Great Britain 
— great in her civilization, great in physical and 
mental vigor, great in her statesmanship, and 
great in her elements of power and stability. 
The question uppermost when we landed there, as 
when we left there, was Home Rule, or coercion 
for Ireland. No question of modern times has 
stirred England so deeply as this. It has rent 
asunder parties, cast down leaders, broken up 
friendships, and divided families ; men who have 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 79 

acted together in politics during nearly half a 
century, have all at once found themselves widely 
separated on this vast and vital question. There 
is much strength in the positions of each party, 
as in the case of our maintenance of our union. 
I believe that good order, liberty, and civilization 
will be better served and better preserved in the 
union of Great Britain and Ireland than outside 
of it. The spirit of the age does not favor small 
nationalities. Extension, organization, unifica- 
tion, are more in harmony with the wisdom of the 
times. The trouble in Ireland, however, is not 
its limited population, its destitution of states- 
men, or its inability to maintain an independent 
government, but that there is in reality two Ire- 
lands ; one loyal to the union, and the other anx- 
ious for complete separation. The loyal part of 
the people of Ireland, as a class, are Protestant, and 
the Home Rule men are largely Catholic ; so just 
here is the bitterest element in the British polit- 
ical cauldron. The Tory party profess to see in 
Home Rule the entering wedge to the entire sep- 
aration of Ireland from England, and handing 
over the whole loyal Protestant population into 
the power of the hostile Catholic — a result they 
look upon with unaffected horror. It is this 
which has caused even the generous and noble- 
minded John Bright to array his powerful in- 
fluence against Home Rule. A Republican in 



8o LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

his sympathies and convictions, he yet shrinks 
back in horror from applying the RepubHcan 
majority rule to Ireland. His great friend, Mr. 
Gladstone, hitherto far more conservative than 
Mr. Bright, has no such scruples. He seems 
quite willing to trust the fairness and justice of 
the majority. He is bitterly reproached for his 
change of front. It is said he did not always 
hold his present liberal views towards Ireland, 
and that his conversion is far too sudden to be 
genuine. His answer to this, however, seems to be 
honest, statesmanlike, and conclusive. He tried 
coercion for Ireland so long as he thought coer- 
cion the only remedy for the ills of that country. 
He treated Ireland as a wise physician would 
treat his patient ; having his health steadily in 
view, when he found that one course of treatment 
failed to restore health, he tried another. His 
method was changed, but his object, never. I 
hardly need say that I am in sympathy with 
Home Rule for Ireland, as held by Mr. Glad- 
stone ; I am so, both for the sake of England and 
for the sake of Ireland. The former will throw 
off a tremendous load both in money and in repu- 
tation by granting it. The glory of England will 
cease to be soiled with shame for the grievances 
of Ireland, and Ireland will be put upon her good 
behavior before the world, and made responsible 
for her own good or ill condition. Though often 




CHARLES SUMNER. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 8 1 

charsfed with seekino- the dismemberment of the 
British Empire, I believe Mr. Gladstone is as firm 
a friend to the union between England and Ire- 
land as any man in the United Kingdom, but he 
is for the rule of justice instead of the rule of the 
bayonet, the rule of love instead of the rule of 
hate, the rule of trust and confidence instead of 
the rule of doubt and suspicion. I wanted to see 
this famous statesman and orator while in Lon- 
don. It has been my good fortune to hear many 
of the best speakers in this country and in Eng- 
land. I have heard Webster, Everett, Sumner, 
Phillips, and other great American orators, living 
and dead. I have also heard Sir Robert Peel, 
Richard Cobden, George Thompson, John Bright, 
Lord Brougham, O'Connell, and other great 
speakers in England, and I felt it would be some- 
thing to hear the peer of any of the greatest of 
them. Well, the opportunity was afforded me ; I 
heard Mr. Gladstone, under the most favorable 
conditions. It was on an occasion of his motion 
in Parliament to reject the infamous Coercion 
bill. For weeks the bill had been debated, and 
Mr. Gladstone had borne his full share in that de- 
bate, and I was anxious to know what he could say 
further. The tide of public opinion set strongly 
against him, and the passage of the bill was 
already assured. The press of the country, for 
the most part, had kept up a steady fire upon 



82 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

him and loaded him with reproaches of the bit- 
terest kind. The House was crowded, and all 
eyes were turned upon him when he rose to 
make his last great effort to defeat this force bill 
for Ireland, which he knew could not be defeated ; 
but Mr. Gladstone had a duty to perform and he 
performed it admirably. The first glance at his 
face impressed me. There was a singular blend- 
ing of qualities in it, the lamb and the lion were 
there ; dauntless as a veteran soldier, and yet 
meek as a saint. His speech was one of the 
grandest I ever heard, and was listened to with 
profoundest silence by the whole House. My 
expectations were high, very high, but in some 
respects they were far exceeded. For one hour 
and a half, without pause, and without once hesi- 
tating for a word, he poured out a stream of elo- 
quence, learning, and argument which seemed to 
be irresistible. When he sat down the govern- 
ment benches, as well as the opposite benches, 
were immediately emptied, and poor Mr. Balfour, 
the secretary for Ireland, was left almost without 
an audience to hear his reply. 

My visit to England was in some respects sen- 
timental. I wanted to see the faces and press 
the hands of some of the dear friends and ac- 
quaintances I met there over forty years ago. 
Among them were two ladies who were mainly 
instrumental in giving me the chance of devoting 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 83 

my life to the cause of freedom. These were 
Ellen and Anna Richardson, of Newcastle-upon- 
Tyne. They are both living, one aged seventy- 
nine, and the other over eighty; without any sug- 
gestion from me they opened a correspondence 
with Hon. Walter Foward, of Pittsburgh, and 
Mr. Merideth, of Philadelphia, and through them 
bought me out of slavery, secured a bill of sale of 
my body, made a present of myself to myself, and 
thus enabled me to return to the United States, 
and resume my work for the emancipation of the 
slaves. It was a great privilege to see these two 
good women, and to see others who assisted them 
in raising the money to ransom me. If I had no 
other compensation for my voyage across the sea, 
this would have been ample payment ; of course 
many of the precious friends who met me in Eng- 
land, Ireland, and Scotland forty years ago have 
passed away, but I saw some of them through 
their children and in them recognized their noble 
qualities. 

One of the most interesting places for Ameri- 
can tourists is the city of Edinburgh, and it was 
especially so to me, not only on account of the 
historical associations that cluster about it, and 
its many beautiful features, but for the memor- 
able controversy I took part in with the Free 
Church during my first visit to Scotland. The 
facts are these : That church had sent a dej^uta- 



84 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

tion to the United States immediately after sepa- 
rating itself from the established church of Scot- 
land, to collect money to build churches and 
support its ministry. That deputation went South 
and collected several thousand pounds for this pur- 
pose in the slave states and presumably from slave- 
holders. George Thompson, Henry C. Wright, 
and James N. Buffom, lately deceased, made an 
issue with the church. We felt that it would be 
good testimony against slavery if we could induce 
the Free Church to follow the example of Daniel 
O'Connell in a like case to send back the money. 
The debate was sharp and long — the excitement 
was great. Nearly everybody in Scotland, out- 
side the Free Church, were on the side of free- 
dom, and were for sending back the money. 
This sentiment was written on the pavements 
and walls and sung in the streets by minstrels. 
The very air was full of send back the money. 
Forgetting I was in a monarchy and not in this 
RejDublic, I got myself into trouble by cutting 
"send back the money" on Arthur's seat. I was 
soon after arrested for trespassing on the Queen's 
forests, and only got off by a written apology. 

I visited the same spot when over there a few 
weeks ago, but the friendly grass of forty years 
had obliterated all trace of the famous formula 
and my humiliation, as it has also happily blotted 
out all further need of that sentiment itself. The 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 85 

money, however, was never sent back, for Scotch- 
men do not part with money without knowing 
wherefor — a lesson which colored people will do 
well to learn, if they ever favorably change their 
relations to the people and civilization of our age. 
I have traveled since I left, not only in Eng- 
land, Ireland, and Scotland, but in France, Switz- 
erland, Italy, Athens, and Egypt. The most 
civilized, the best cultivated, and apparently the 
most prosperous of these countries is England. 
Nothing here goes to waste, every inch of fertile 
soil is cultivated and made to yield abundant 
harvests. The average crop of wheat is forty-six 
bushels to the acre, exceeding that of our best 
western lands. Its fields are pictures in frames 
of rich hedges, adorned with leaves and flowers, 
its people are well behaved, orderly, and strong, 
its cattle, large, smooth, and round, its public 
buildings, substantial and imposing, its houses, 
neat, ample, and comfortable ; everything here 
exhibits the mark of thoughtful care. The man- 
agement of its railroads for the comfort of trav- 
elers is somewhat clumsy; they lack over there 
our excellent system of checks, but the protection 
of life is more complete, and a higher rate of 
speed is attained ; the railroad crossing for teams 
are spanned by bridges — no teams cross on the 
rails, and hence nobody is run over as in free 
America. 



86 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

" I stopped but a little while in London, the 
greatest city, with the greatest population in the 
world, a population which is just double what it 
was forty-two years ago. It was two and a half 
millions then ; it is five millions now. I was 
there long enough to revisit St. Paul's, the Na- 
tional Gallery, the British Museum, Westminster 
Abbey, the Tower, Madam Tausaud's, and to 
visit Buffalo Bill's show, — for this is the latest 
addition to London life, — and you would be aston- 
ished to see the hundreds of thousands that flock 
day after day to see this wonder of the Wild 
West. 

" If any American wants to have a vivid impres- 
sion of human progress, and to shudder at the 
cruelty and barbarism of England a few centuries 
ago, he has only to go to the Tower of London, 
and look upon the terrible things he will see there 
— torture and death are written all over that 
ancient prison. But I must not stop here with 
England, otherwise I shall hardly reach in my 
narrative any one of the other great counties it 
was my good fortune to visit during my stay 
abroad. Even as the matter now stands, I must 
postpone to another occasion remarks upon other 
features of my tour. On leaving London we 
went directly to Paris and spent several weeks 
there. We hardly felt ourselves in a strange land 
and among strangers till we reached this wonder- 



Life of Frederick Douglass. 87 

ful city, the center of fashion, taste, refinement, 
and art, where we no longer heard our mother 
tongue, or saw our English and American man- 
ners. The situation was strange, but not dis- 
agreeable. We were in a city of great historical 
events, marvelous transitions, startling revolu- 
tions, where human passion has been more power- 
fully displayed in riot and ruin than in any other 
city of modern times. A whole wilderness of 
horrors is suggested when its name is men- 
tioned, and yet there is found in it quiet, orderly, 
majestic, and beautiful signs of life, and it is 
beaming with cheerfulness and thronged with 
seemingly happy people." 

Prolonged applause followed the conclusion of 
this address, after which the audience filed past 
Mr. Douglass, each one in turn shaking the hand 
of the distinguished man. 

Mr. Douglass was appointed minister resident 
and consul general to Hayti by President Harri- 
son in 1889, and after holding the ofiice for two 
years resigned. For some years prior to this 
time the United States had been unsuccessful in 
its attempts to secure a naval station in Hayti. 
These efforts, renewed soon after Mr. Douglass 
had entered upon his duties as minister, were 
again unsuccessful, and it was claimed that in 
the negotiations he did not heartily support the 
propositions made by his government for the 



88 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

lease of the mole St. Nicholas. The charge is 
entirely groundless. In a word, the real objec- 
tion to granting the request of our government 
came from the Haytian people themselves. The 
opinion was general that securing the mole was 
only the first step in our purpose to annex the 
whole island to this country. Whether this opin- 
ion was correctly founded or not, President Hyp- 
polite, even if he had desired to favor the United 
States in the matter of leasing the mole, saw it 
was impolitic to act in defiance to the wishes of 
his countrymen. 

As a proof of its respect and confidence, that 
government appointed Mr. Douglass to represent 
the Haytian Republic at the World's Columbian 
Exposition at Chicago in 1893. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

As Orator and Writer. 

By whatever standard judged Mr. Douglass 
will take high rank as orator and writer. It may 
be truly said of him that he was born an orator; 
and, though he is a man of superior intellectual 
faculties, he has not relied on his natural powers 
alone for success in this his chosen vocation. He 
is called a self-made man, but few college bred 
men have been more diligent students of logic, of 
rhetoric, of politics, of history, and general litera- 
ture than he. He belongs to that class of orators 
of which Fox of England and Henry and Clay in 
our own country are the most illustrious repre- 
sentatives. His style, however, is peculiarly his 
own. 

Cicero says, " The best orator is he that so 
speaks as to instruct, to delight, and to move the 
mind of his hearers." Mr. Douglass is a striking 
example of this definition. Few men equal him 
in his power over an audience. He possesses wit 
and pathos, two qualities which characterized 
Cicero and which, in the opinion of the rhetori- 
cian Quintilian, gave the Roman orator great 
advantage over Demosthenes. Judge Ruffin of 
Boston, in his introduction to Mr. Douglass' auto- 
biography, says : " Douglass is brimful of humor, 



90 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

— at times of the driest kind ; it is of a quaint 
kind ; you can see it coming a long way off in a 
peculiar twitch of his mouth ; it increases and 
broadens gradually until it becomes irresistible 
and all-pervading with his audience." The humor 
of Mr. Douglass is much like that of Mr. Joseph 
Jefferson, the great actor, who never makes an 
effort to be funny, but his humor is of the quiet, 
suppressed type. Like Mr. Jefferson, now he 
excites those emotions which cause tears, and 
now he stirs up those which produce laughter. 
Grief and mirth may be said to reside in adjoin- 
ing apartments in the same edifice, and the pass- 
ing from one apartment to the other is not a diffi- 
cult thing to do. 

The biographer of Webster gives the following 
amusing anecdote to show the simplicity of ex- 
pressing thought for which that Colossus of Amer- 
ican intellect is distinguished in his speeches: " On 
the arrival of that singular genius, David Crock- 
ett, at Washington, he had an opportunity of 
hearing Mr. Webster. A short time afterwards 
he met him and abruptly accosted him as follows : 
' Is this Mr. Webster .? ' ' Yes, sir.' ' The great 
Mr. Webster of Massachusetts .? ' continued he, 
with a significant tone. ' I am Mr. Webster of 
Massachusetts,' was the calm reply. ' Well, sir,' 
continued the eccentric Crockett, ' I had heard 
that you were a great man, but I don't think so; 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 9 1 

I heard your speech and uiiderstood every word 
you said! " 

President Lincoln gave this reply to the ques- 
tion asked, to what secret he owed his success in 
public debate : " I always assume that my audi- 
ences are in many things wiser than I am, and I 
say the most sensible things I can to them. I 
never found that they did not understand me." 

The power of simple statement is one of the 
chief characteristics of Mr. Douglass' style of 
speaking, and in this respect he resembles Fox, 
the great British statesman, who, above all his 
countrymen, was distinguished on account of 
plainness, and, as I may express it, homeliness of 
thought which gave him great power in persuad- 
ing and moving his audience. 

Mr. Douglass' influence in public speaking is 
due largely to the fact that he touches the hearts 
of his hearers — that he impresses them with the 
belief of his sincerity and earnestness. His heart 
is in what he says. " Clearness, force, and ear- 
nestness," says Webster, " are the qualities which 
produce conviction. True eloquence, indeed, does 
not consist in speech ; it cannot be brought from 
far ; labor and learning may toil for it, but they 
will toil for it in vain. Words and phrases may 
be marshaled in every way, but they cannot 
compass it ; it must exist in the man, in the sub- 
ject, and in the occasion," 



92 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

There have been those of brilliant minds who 
have gained some reputation as speakers ; they 
have been successful in pleasing and amusing 
those they addressed, but their success stopped 
here. They could not reach the depths of the 
heart, because their own hearts were not touched. 
The poet Horace admirably enforces this thought 
when he says : " If you wish me to weep, you 
must first yourself be deeply grieved." 

But to be fully appreciated, Mr. Douglass must 
be seen and heard. This was also true of Henry 
Clay. One could form but a faint conception 
of his eloquence and grandeur by reading his 
speeches, and yet, as reported, they were both 
logical and argumentative. The fire and action 
of the man could not be transferred to paper. 
Mr. Douglass in speaking does not make many 
gestures, but those he uses are natural and spon- 
taneous. His manner is simple and graceful, and 
there is nothing about his style artificial or de- 
clamatory. Much of an orator's success depends 
upon his delivery. The younger Pitt said that 
he could not discover where lay his father's elo- 
quence by simply reading his speeches. It is 
related of Garrick that he was asked by a clergy- 
man why it was that he could produce greater 
effect by a recital of fiction than the clergy by 
the presentation of the most important truths. 
Garrick replied : " Because you speak truths as if 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 93 

they were fictions; we speak fictions as if they 
were truths." 

Mr. Douglass, as an extemporaneous speaker, 
was much more impressive than he has been since 
he began to write out his speeches and deHver 
them from manuscript. He remarked to the 
writer one day that he thought he had made a 
mistake in thus writing out his lectures ; he im- 
bibed the idea that his extemporaneous speeches 
would be defective and subject him to criticism. 
He had by so doing lost much power in delivery. 
" For," said he, " I never was a good reader." 
The first address he wrote out in full was the 
paper before the Western Reserve College in 
1854. Ever since his return from England in 
i860 he has steadily followed the habit of writing 
what he has to say and reading from manuscript. 
His former style is what we call extemporaneous, 
but we do not wish to convey the idea that he 
spoke without preparation. On the contrary, he 
gave much thought to the topics which he in- 
tended to discuss, and then prepared notes under 
the different divisions of his subject. By not 
being confined to his manuscript, he caught the 
inspiration of his audience. This inspiration, so 
essential to true eloquence in the orator, can 
never be secured by the essayist, however fin- 
ished and perfect he may be. 

While Mr. Douglass may have lost much of 



94 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

his eloquence in using manuscript, yet some im- 
portant advantages have resulted from this prac- 
tice. He was led to investigate more extensively 
the subjects on which he wrote, and to take more 
time for preparation; and thus made his speeches 
more complete. Formerly, many of his best ex- 
temporaneous efforts were never fully reported, 
and consequently much that he said has been 
lost. His later lectures and speeches have been 
preserved in manuscript form, and when pub- 
lished together, as they will be one day, will prove 
a valuable contribution to literature. 

Some of his best lectures are The Mission of 
the War, The Sources of Danger to the Repub- 
lic, Self-made Men, Recollections of the Anti- 
slavery Contest, William the Silent, Santo Do- 
mingo, The National Capital, Abraham Lincoln, 
John Brown. 

The discourses of Mr. Douglass when re- 
viewed, will bear the test of criticism, and will be 
found to contain the requisites of a correct and 
finished style. His language is pure, his words 
are choice, and in accordance with the best usage. 
His sentences are constructed in the English 
idiom, and have the elements of strength because 
preference is given in their formation to short 
Anglo-Saxon words, rather than to those derived 
from Latin and Greek. So carefully is the rule 
of propriety observed by him that one would 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 95 

think he had thoroughly mastered the principles 
of grammar and rhetoric under the most compe- 
tent instructors. From the discrimination he 
uses in the selection of words to express the idea 
he wishes to convey, we conclude he must have 
been for many years a diligent student of the 
dictionary. His writings are remarkably free 
from obscurity and affectation, which Macaulay 
regards as " the two greatest faults in style," and 
they may, therefore, be taken as models of per- 
spicuity, so essential to one who would become 
eminent as an essayist. This excellence to which 
we allude, is due, no doubt, to the fact that he first 
forms clear and distinct conceptions of the truth 
he wishes to illustrate, and then making use of 
simple language to express the ideas arranged in 
his mind in logical order, writes freely as if under 
inspiration. Since he has followed the practice 
of writing his speeches his style has become more 
argumentative and massive, similar to that of 
Webster and Burke. In all he says, like these 
great masters, whom none have surpassed, there is 
so much beauty of expression, elegance of diction, 
dignity of thought, and elevation of moral feeling 
that the most happy and lasting effect is pro- 
duced upon the mind of the reader. 

In the preparation of his speeches and ad- 
dresses, Mr. Douglass at times requires greater 
privacy than his library affords, where he is liable 



96 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

to interruption by members of his household and 
visitors. In order that he may wholly give his 
attention to the literary work which he has in 
hand, he retires to his " den," as he calls it, a 
small, one-room building, situated in the rear of 
his dwelling, and used by former owners as a 
storehouse, but now with certain interior altera- 
tions made into a cozy study. It is a pleasant 
retreat in summer, for it is protected from the 
heat of the sun by trees and vines, and in winter 
is made comfortable by a glowing fire in the old- 
fashioned fireplace found within. The study is 
furnished simply with a lounge, a high desk, and 
a stool. It is the practice of Mr. Douglass to 
write standing, when in this room, where he will 
remain for hours at a time, denying himself to all 
visitors. While composing, he thinks accurately 
and correctly, and on this account his composi- 
tion requires but little correction. His manu- 
script is always neat, not marred by erasures and 
alterations. We mention this fact because it 
proves that correct writing is the result of care 
exercised by the writer in the beginning, which 
in time becomes a fixed habit. 



D 
C 
r; 

O 
r 

> 



z 




CHAPTER IX. 

Extracts from His Speeches and Lectures. 

We shall now make a few additional selections 
from his speeches and lectures to show further 
his style as orator and writer. We regret we 
have no exact report of the Nantucket speech, to 
which reference in these pages has already been 
made. This was his maiden effort and was the 
turning point of his whole life. I quote from Mr. 
Garrison, who was in attendance upon the con- 
vention, and heard the addresses of the different 
speakers. After telling of the fortunate circum- 
stance that Mr. Douglass was induced to address 
the meeting, he gives the impressions made upon 
him by the speaker in his remarks on that occa- 
sion. Here is what he says : — 

" Fortunate, most fortunate occurrence ! — for- 
tunate for the millions of his manacled brethren, 
yet panting for deliverance from their awful thral- 
drom ! fortunate for the cause of negro emancipa- 
tion, and of universal liberty ! fortunate for the 
land of his birth, which he has already done so 
much to save and bless ! fortunate for a large cir- 
cle of friends and acquaintances, whose sympathy 
and affection he has strongly secured by the 
many sufferings he has endured, by his virtuous 



gS LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

traits of character, by his ever-abiding remem- 
brance of those who are in bonds, as being bound 
with them ! fortunate for the multitudes, even in 
various parts of our republic, whose minds he has 
enlightened on the subject of slavery, and who 
have been melted to tears by his pathos, or roused 
to virtuous indignation by his stirring eloquence 
against the enslavers of men ! fortunate for him- 
self, as it at once brought him into the field of 
public usefulness, 'gave the world assurance of a 
man,' quickened the slumbering energies of his 
soul, and consecrated him to the great work of 
breaking the rod of the oppressor, and letting the 
oppressed go free ! 

" I shall never forget his first speech at the con- 
vention — the extraordinary emotion it excited in 
my own mind — the powerful impression it created 
upon a crowded auditory, completely taken by 
surprise — the applause which followed from the 
beginning to the end of his felicitous remarks. I 
think I never hated slavery so intensely as at that 
moment ; certainly my perception of the enor- 
mous outrage which is inflicted by it, on the God- 
like nature of its victims, was rendered far more 
clear than ever. There stood one in physical 
proportion and stature commanding and exact, 
in intellect richly endowed, in natural eloquence 
a prodigy, in soul manifestly ' created but a little 
lower than the angels ' — yet a slave, ay, a fugitive 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 99 

slave, trembling for his safety, hardly daring to 
believe that on the American soil a single white 
person could be found who would befriend him 
at all hazards, for the love of God and humanity ! 
As soon as he had taken his seat, filled with hope 
and admiration, I arose and declared that Patrick 
Henry, of Revolutionary fame, never made a 
speech more eloquent in the cause of liberty than 
the one we had just listened to from the lips of 
that hunted fugitive. So I believed at that time, 
such is my belief now." 

Afterwards Mr. Douglass, referring to the 
remarks he made on this occasion, said that he 
had no idea that he was making much of an 
effort. Getting over his embarrassment, he 
caught the spirit of the meeting and somehow 
words came to him spontaneously. 

Mr. Douglass in December, 1841, made an 
anti-slavery speech in Providence, Rhode Island. 
This speech, like the Nantucket one, was never 
written out or fully reported. We give the ac- 
count of it as furnished by that elegant writer, 
N. P. Rogers. 

" Friday evening was chiefly occupied by col- 
ored speakers. The fugitive Douglass was up 
when we entered. This is an extraordinary man. 
He was cut out for a hero. In a rising for lib- 
erty he would have been a Toussaint or a Hamil- 
ton. He has the ' heart to conceive, the head to 



lOO LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

contrive, and the hand to execute ! ' A command- 
ing person — over six feet, we should say, in height, 
and of most manly proportions. His head would 
strike a phrenologist amid a sea of them in Exeter 
Hall, and his voice would ring like a trumpet in 
the field. Let the South congratulate herself 
that he is a fugitive. It would not have been 
safe for her if he had remained about the planta- 
tions a year or two longer. Douglass is his fugi- 
tive name. He did not wear it in slavery. We 
do not know why he assumed it, or who bestowed 
it on him, but there is some fitness in it, to his 
commanding figure and heroic part. As a speaker 
he has few equals. It is not declamation, but 
oratory, power of debate. He watches the tide 
of discussion with the eye of the veteran, and 
dashes into it at once with all the tact of the 
forum or the bar. He has wit, argument, sar- 
casm, pathos — all that first-rate men show in their 
master efforts. His voice is highly melodious 
and rich, and his enunciation quite elegant, and 
yet he has been but two or three years out of the 
house of bondage. We noticed that he had 
strikingly improved, since we heard him at Dover 
in September. We say this much of him, for he 
is esteemed by our multitude as of an inferior 
race. We should like to see him before any 
New England legislature or bar, and let him feel 
the freedom of the anti-slavery meeting, and see 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I OX 

what would become of his inferiority. Yet he is 
a thing, in American estimate. He is the chattel 
of some pale-faced tyrant. How his owner would 
cower and shiver to hear him thunder in an anti- 
slavery hall ! How he would shrink away, with 
his infernal whip, from his flaming eye when kin- 
dled with anti-slavery emotion ! And the brother- 
hood of thieves, \\\q. posse coinitahis of divines, we 
wish a hecatomb or two of the proudest and flint- 
iest of them were obliged to hear him thunder 
for human liberty and lay the enslavement of his 
people at their doors. They would tremble like 
Belshazzar." 

Of his early speeches here is an eloquent ex- 
tract upon 

"Man's Rights to Liberty. 
" Indeed, I ought to state, what must be obvious 
to all, that, properly speaking, there is no such 
thing as new truth ; for truth, like the God whose 
attribute it is, is eternal. In this sense, there is, 
indeed, nothing new under the sun. Error may 
be properly designated as old or new, since it is 
but a misconception ; or an incorrect view of the 
truth. Misapprehensions of what truth is have 
their beginnings and their endings. They pass 
away as the race move onward. But truth is 
'from everlasting to everlasting,' and can never 
pass away. 



102 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

"Such is the truth of man's right to Hberty. It 
existed in the very idea of man's creation. It 
was his even before he comprehended it. He was 
created in it, endowed with it, and it can never 
be taken from him. No laws, no statutes, no 
compacts, no covenants, no compromises, no con- 
stitutions, can abrogate or destroy it. It is be- 
yond the reach of the strongest earthly arm, and 
smiles at the ravings of tyrants from its hiding 
place in the bosom of God. Men may hinder its 
exercise, they may act in disregard of it, they are 
even permitted to war against it ; but they fight 
against heaven, and their career must be short, 
for Eternal Providence will speedily vindicate 
the right. 

" The existence of this truth is self-evident. It 
is written upon all the powers and faculties of 
man. The desire for it is the deepest and strong- 
est of all the powers of the human soul. Earth, 
sea, and air, — great Nature, with her thousand 
voices, proclaim it. In the language of Addison 
we may apostrophize it : — 

" ' Oh, Liberty ! thou goddess, heavenly bright. 
Profuse of bliss, and pregnant with delight ! 
Thou mak'st the glowing face of nature gay, 
Giv'st beauty to the sun, and pleasure to the day.' 

" I have said that the right to liberty is self-evi- 
dent. No argument, no researches into mouldy 
records, no learned disquisitions, are necessary 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. IO3 

to establish it. To assert it, is to call forth a 
sympathetic response from every human hearty 
and to send a thrill of joy and gladness round 
the world. Tyrants, oppressors, and slaveholders 
are stunned by its utterance, while the oppressed 
and enslaved of all lands hail it as an angel 
of deliverance. Its assertion in Russia, in Aus- 
tria, in Egypt, in fifteen states of the Ameri- 
can Union, is a crime. In the harems of Turkey, 
and on the Southern plantations of Carolina, it is 
alike prohibited ; for the guilty oppressors of 
every clime understand its truth, and appreciate 
its electric power." 

The following extract, a model of passionate 
eloquence, is from an oration delivered on the 
Fourth of July, 1852, to the citizens of Rochester. 

"The White Man's Fourth of July. 
" To me the American slave-trade is a terrible 
reality. When a child, my soul was often pierced 
with a sense of its horrors. I lived on Philpot 
street. Fells Point, Baltimore, and have watched 
from the wharves the slave-ships in the basin, an- 
chored from the shore, with their cargoes of 
human flesh, waiting for favorable winds to waft 
them down the Chesapeake. There was at that 
time a grand slave-mart kept at the head of Pratt 
street, by Austin Woldfolle. His agents were 
sent into every town and county in Maryland, 



I04 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

announcing their arrival through the papers, and 
on flaming ''handbills^ headed, Cash for Negroes. 
These men were generally well dressed, and very 
captivating in their manners, ever ready to drink, 
to treat, and to gamble. The fate of many a slave 
has depended upon the turn of a single card; and 
many a child has been snatched from the arms of 
its mother, by bargains arranged in a state of 
brutal drunkenness. 

" The fleshmongers gather up their victims by 
dozens, and drive them, chained, to the general 
depot at Baltimore. When a sufficient number 
have been collected here, a ship is chartered for 
the purpose of conveying the forlorn crew to 
Mobile, or to New Orleans. From the slave 
prison to the ship, they are usually driven in the 
darkness of night ; for since the anti-slavery agi- 
tation, a certain caution is observed. 

" In the deep, still darkness of midnight, I have 
often been aroused by the dead, heavy footsteps, 
and the piteous cries of the chained gangs that 
passed our door. The anguish of my boyish 
heart was intense, and I was often consoled, when 
speaking to my mistress in the morning, to hear 
her say that the custom was very wicked ; that 
she hated to hear the rattle of the chains, and the 
heart-rending cries. I was glad to find one who 
sympathized with me in my horror. 

"Fellow-citizens, this murderous traffic is, to- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. IO5 

day, in active operation in this boasted republic. 
In the solitude of my spirit, I see clouds of dust 
raised on the highways of the South ; I see the 
bleeding footsteps ; I hear the doleful wail of 
fettered humanity, on the way to the slave-mar- 
kets, where the victims are to be sold like horses, 
sheep, and szvine, knocked off to the highest bid- 
der. There I see the tenderest ties ruthlessly 
broken to gratify the lust, caprice, and rapacity 
of the buyers and sellers of men. My soul sick- 
ens at the sight. 

'ik 'dk. ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

"What, to the American slave, is your Fourth 
of July ? I answer, a day that reveals to him, 
more than all other days in the year, the gross 
injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant 
victim. To him, your celebration is a sham ; 
your boasted liberty, an unholy license ; your 
national greatness, swelling vanity ; your sounds 
of rejoicing are empty and heartless ; your denun- 
ciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence ; your 
shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery ; 
your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks- 
givings, with all your religious parade and solem- 
nity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, 
impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up 
crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. 
There is not a nation on the earth guilty of 
practices more shocking and more bloody than 



io6 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

are the people of these United States at this 
very hour." 

At the commencement exercises of the West- 
ern Reserve College, July 12, 1854, Mr. Douglass 
ably discussed the question, " The Claims of the 
Negro Ethnologically Considered." As stated 
elsewhere in this sketch, up to this time he had 
delivered his speeches extemporaneously or from 
brief notes. On this occasion he wrote out in 
full his address and spoke from manuscript, in- 
troducing his subject to the audience in these 
words : — 

"Gentlemen of the Philozetian Society: I pro- 
pose to submit to you a few thoughts on the 
subject of the Claims of the Negro, suggested by 
ethnological science, or the natural history of 
man. But, before entering upon that subject, I 
trust you will allow me to make a remark or two 
somewhat personal to myself. The relation be- 
tween me and this occasion may justify what, in 
others, might seem an offense against good taste. 

"This occasion is to me of no ordinary interest, 
for many reasons ; and the honor you have done 
me, in selecting me as your speaker, is as grate- 
ful to my heart as it is novel in the history of 
American collegiate or literary institutions. Sur- 
prised as I am, the public are no less surprised, 
at the spirit of independence, and the moral 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. IO7 

courage displayed by the gentlemen at whose 
call I am here. There is felt to be a principle 
in the matter placing it far above egotism or 
personal vanity ; a principle which gives to this 
occasion a general, and, I had almost said, an 
universal interest. I engage, to-day, for the first 
time, in the exercises of any college commence- 
ment. It is a new chapter in my humble expe- 
rience. The usual course, at such times, I believe, 
is to call to the platform men of age and distinc- 
tion, eminent for eloquence, mental ability, and 
scholarly attainments — men whose high culture, 
severe training, great experience, large observa- 
tion, and peculiar aptitude for teaching, qualify 
them to instruct even the already well instructed, 
and to impart a glow, a luster, to the acquire- 
ments of those who are passing from the halls of 
learning to the broad theater of active life. To 
no such high endeavor as this, is your humble 
speaker fitted ; and it was with much distrust 
and hesitation that he accepted the invitation, so 
kindly and perseveringly given, to occupy a por- 
tion of your attention here to-day. 

" I express the hope, then, gentlemen, that this 
acknowledgment of the novelty of my position, 
and my unaffected and honest confession of in- 
aptitude, will awaken a sentiment of generous 
indulgence towards the scattered thoughts I have 
been able to fling together, with a view of pre- 



I08 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

senting them as my humble contribution to these 
commencement exercises. 

" Interesting to me, personally, as this occasion 
is, it is still more interesting to you ; especially to 
such of you as have completed your education, 
and who (not wholly unlike the gallant ship, 
newly launched, full rigged, and amply fitted, 
about to quit the placid waters of the harbor for 
the boisterous waves of the sea) are entering upon 
the active duties and measureless responsibilities 
incident to the great voyage of life. Before such, 
the ocean of mind lies outspread more solemn 
than the sea, studded with difficulties and perils. 
Thoughts, theories, ideas, and systems, so various, 
and so opposite, and leading to such diverse re- 
sults, suggest the wisdom of the utmost precau- 
tion, and the most careful survey, at the start. A 
false light, a defective chart, an imperfect com- 
pass, may cause one to drift in endless bewilder- 
ment, or to be landed at last amid sharp destruc- 
tive rocks. On the other hand, guided by wis- 
dom, manned with truth, fidelity and industry, 
the haven of peace, devoutly wished for, may be 
reached in safety by all. The compensation of the 
preacher is full, when assured that his words have 
saved even one from error and from ruin. My joy 
shall be full, if, on this occasion, I shall be able to 
give a right direction to any one mind, touching 
the question now to be considered. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. IO9 

"Gentlemen, in selecting the Claims of the Ne- 
gro as the subject of my remarks to-day, I am 
animated by a desire to bring before you a mat- 
ter of living importance — matter upon which 
action, as well as thought, is required. The rela- 
tion subsisting between the white and black peo- 
ple of this country is the vital question of the 
age. In the solution of this question, the scholars 
of America will have to take an important and 
controlling part. This is the moral battlefield to 
which their country and their God now call them. 
In the eye of both, the neutral scholar is an igno- 
ble man. Here, a man must be hot, or be ac- 
counted cold, or, perchance, something worse 
than hot or cold. The lukewarm and the cow- 
ardly will be rejected by earnest men on either 
side of the controversy. The cunning man who 
avoids it, to gain the favor of both parties, will be 
rewarded with scorn ; and the timid man who 
shrinks from it for fear of offending either party, 
will be despised. To the lawyer, the preacher, 
the politician, and to the man of letters, there is 
no neutral ground. He that is not for us, is 
against us. Gentlemen, I assume at the start, 
that wherever else I may be required to speak 
with bated breath, here, at least, I may speak with 
freedom the thought nearest my heart. This 
liberty is implied, by the call I have received to 
be here ; and yet I hope to present the subject so 



no LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

that no man can reasonably say that an outrage 
has been committed, or that I have abused the 
privileges with which you have honored me. I 
shall aim to discuss the claims of the negro, gen- 
eral and special, in a manner, though not scien- 
tific, still sufficiently clear and definite to enable 
my hearers to form an intelligent judgment re- 
specting them." 

jj^ jtU 4|^ <^ -1^ *^ *^ 

He concludes in the following eloquent plea in 
behalf of his race : — 

" But, gentlemen, the time fails me, and I must 
bring these remarks to a close. My argument 
has swelled beyond its appointed measure. What 
I intended to make special, has become, in its 
progress, somewhat general. I meant to speak 
here, to-day, for the lonely and the despised ones, 
with whom I was cradled, and with whom I have 
suffered ; and now, gentlemen, in conclusion, what 
if all this reasoning be unsound ? What if the 
negro may not be able to prove his relationship 
to Nubians, Abyssinians, and Egyptians ? What 
if ingenious men are able to find plausible objec- 
tions to all arguments maintaining the oneness of 
the human race.'' What, after all, if they are able 
to show very good reasons for believing the negro 
to have been created precisely as we find him on 
the Gold coast — along the Senegal and the Niger 
— I say, what of all this ? 'A man ''s a man for 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I I I 

a that' I sincerely believe, that the weight of 
the argument is in favor of the unity of origin of 
the human race, or species — that the arguments 
on the other side are partial, superficial, utterly 
subversive of the happiness of man, and insulting 
to the wisdom of God. Yet, what if we grant 
they are not so? What, if we grant that the 
case, on our part, is not made out ? Does it fol- 
low, that the negro should be held in contempt? 
Does it follow, that to enslave and imbrute him is 
either yW/ or wise? I think not. Human rights 
stand upon a common basis ; and by all the rea- 
son that they are supported, maintained, and de- 
fended, for one variety of the human family, they 
are supported, maintained, and defended for all 
the human family ; because all mankind have the 
same wants, arising out of a common nature. A 
diverse origin does not disprove a common nature, 
nor does it disprove a united destiny. The essen- 
tial characteristics of humanity are everywhere 
the same. In the language of the eloquent Cur- 
ran, ' No matter what complexion, whether an 
Indian or an African sun has burnt upon him,' 
his title deed to freedom, his claim to life and to 
liberty, to knowledge and to civilization, to society 
and to Christianity, is just and perfect. It is 
registered in the courts of heaven, and is enforced 
by the eloquence of the God of all the earth. 
" I have said that the negro and white man are 



112 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

likely ever to remain the principal inhabitants of 
this country. I repeat the statement now, to 
submit the reasons that support it. The blacks 
can disappear from the face of the country by 
three ways. They may be colonized, — they may 
be exterminated, — or, they may die out. Colo- 
nization is out of the question, for I know not 
what hardships the laws of the land can impose 
which can induce the colored citizen to leave his 
native soil. He was here in its infancy ; he is 
here in its age. Two hundred years have passed 
over him, his tears and blood have been mixed 
with the soil, and his attachment to the place of 
his birth is stronger than iron. It is not probable 
that he will be exterminated ; two considerations 
must prevent a crime so stupendous as that — the 
influence of Christianity on the one hand, and 
the power of self-interest on the other ; and, in 
regard to their dying out, the statistics of the 
country afford no encouragement for such a con- 
jecture. The history of the negro race proves 
them to be wonderfully adapted to all countries, 
all climates, and all conditions. Their tenacity 
of life, their powers of endurance, their malleable 
toughness, would almost imply especial interpo- 
sition on their behalf. The ten thousand horrors 
of slavery, striking hard upon the sensitive soul, 
have bruised, and battered, and stung, but have 
not killed. The poor bondman lifts a smiling 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. II 3 

face above the surface of a sea of agonies, hoping 
on^ hoping ever. His tawny brother, the Indian, 
dies under the flashing glance of the Anglo- 
Saxon. Not so the negro ; civilization cannot 
kill him. He accepts it — becomes a part of it. 
In the church, he is an Uncle Tom ; in the state, 
he is the most abused and least offensive. All 
the facts in his history mark out for him a des- 
tiny united to America and Americans. Now, 
whether this population shall, by Freedom, Indus- 
try, Virtue, and Intelligence, be made a bless- 
ing to the country and the world, or whether 
their multiplied wrongs shall kindle the ven- 
geance of an offended God, will depend upon the 
conduct of no class of men so much as upon the 
scholars of the country. The future public opin- 
ion of the land, whether anti-slavery or pro-slav- 
ery, whether just or unjust, whether magnanimous 
or mean, must redound to the honor of the schol- 
ars of the country or cover them with shame. 
There is but one safe road for nations or for indi- 
viduals. The fate of a wicked man and of a 
wicked nation is the same. The flaming sword 
of offended justice falls as certainly upon the 
nation as upon the man. God has no children 
whose rights may be safely trampled upon. The 
sparrow may not fall to the ground without the 
notice of his eye, and men are more than sparrows. 
"Now, gentlemen, I have done. The subject is 



114 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

before you. I shall not undertake to make the ap- 
plication. I speak as unto wise men. I stand in 
the presence of scholars. We have met here 
to-day from vastly different points in the world's 
condition. I have reached here — if you will par- 
don the egotism — by little short of a miracle ; at 
any rate, by dint of some application and per- 
severance. Born, as I was, in obscurity, a stran- 
ger to the halls of learning, environed by igno- 
rance, degradation, and their concomitants from 
birth to manhood, I do not feel at liberty to mark 
out, with any degree of confidence, or dogmatism, 
what is the precise vocation of the scholar. Yet, 
this I can say, as a denizen of the world, and as a 
citizen of a country rolling in the sin and shame 
of slavery, the most flagrant and scandalous that 
ever saw the sun, ' Whatsoever things are true, 
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things 
are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever 
things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good 
report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any 
praise, think on these things.' " 

A gentleman who was present and heard this 
address, in a recent article to a newspaper writes 
the following: " One of the societies in ' Western 
Reserve College ' (now removed to Cleveland, and 
known as Adelbert College, and endowed by the 
late Mr. Stone) had invited Mr. Douglass to give 
the annual address before that body. It was a 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. II 5 

very honorable exhibition of breadth and progres- 
siveness on the part of the students. The West- 
ern Reserve was always in advance, keeping 
step with Worcester county, Massachusetts. Mr. 
Douglass took as his subject, ' The Claims of 
the Negro Ethnologically Considered.' The hon- 
ored president of the University of Rochester 
kindly and cordially promised to give Mr. Doug- 
lass the benefit of his extended knowledge of eth- 
nology, and it was the privilege of the Rambler to 
accompany Mr. Douglass to the house of the 
president and to introduce (as an isthmus con- 
necting two continents) the radical lecturer to 
the somewhat conservative president. Later it 
was his honor to introduce Mr. Douglass to the 
president of Brown University. 

" In the course of his address, Mr. Douglass 
cited one author who decried the claim of the 
negro to equal manhood, on the ground that 
' the voice of the negro is thin and piping, an 
evidence of inferiority.' This passage Mr. Doug- 
lass delivered in a voice of thunder, convulsing 
the audience, and rendering other reply needless." 

Mr. George Thompson, whom Lord Brougham 
called " the most eloquent man in all England," 
had argued before the people of Glasgow, Scot- 
land, that the constitution of the United States 
was a pro-slavery instrument, and took the ground 
that the dissolution of the Union as held by the 



Il6 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Garrisonians was the end to be sought by the 
American aboHtionists as opposed to those who 
believed in the anti-slavery character of the consti- 
tution and duty of laboring inside of the govern- 
ment for the abolition of slavery. Mr. Douglass, 
then being in Glasgow, was invited to answer Mr. 
Thompson, and did so in a speech which showed 
not only his ability as a ready debater, but his 
thorough understanding of the question he dis- 
cussed. The extract which we here present of 
that speech will give some idea of his power of 
simple statement and force of logical reasoning : — 
" I have read with much care a speech delivered 
in the City Hall, Glasgow, on the 28th of Febru- 
ary, purporting to be a reply to one made by 
myself in Dr. Anderson's church a few weeks 
previously. I found that speech at length in one 
of your most respectable daily papers. The 
minuteness and general shading of the report 
bore evidence that the orator had been his own 
reporter. The speech showed no marks of being 
marred or mutilated in its transition from the 
manuscript to the types, and no doubt may be 
properly taken as a fair transcript of the orator's 
utterances on that occasion. On some accounts 
I read that speech with much regret, and on 
others with much satisfaction. I was certainly 
pleased with the evidence it afforded that the 
orator had largely recovered his long-lost health, 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I I 7 

and much of his wonted eloquence and fire. But 
my chief ground of satisfaction is that its deHv- 
ery — perhaps I ought to say its publication, for I 
should not have noticed the speech but for that — 
furnishes an occasion for bringing before the 
friends of my enslaved people one phase of the 
great struggle going on in America between slav- 
ery and freedom, which I deem both interesting 
and important. 

Jt ^ ^ :!£: :J& dfc ^ 

" I stand by all I said, and more than all I said, 
in the speech in Dr. Anderson's church. But 
enough of this ; I proceed to the discussion. 
Much will be gained at the outset if we fully and 
clearly understand the real question under dis- 
cussion. Indeed, nothing is or can be understood 
till this is understood. Things are often con- 
founded and treated as the same, for no better 
reason than that they resemble each other, even 
while they are in their nature and character 
totally distinct and even directly opposed to each 
other. The jumbling of things is a sort of dust- 
throwing which is often indulged in by small men 
who argue for victory rather than for truth. 
Thus, for instance, the American government 
and the American constitution are spoken of in 
a manner which v\oiild naturally lead the hearer 
to believe that the one is identical with the other; 
when the truth is, they are as disiinct in charaC' 



Il8 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

ter as are a ship and a compass. The one may 
point right and the other steer wrong. A chart 
is one thing, the course of the vessel is another. 
The constitution may be right, the government 
wrong. If the government has been governed 
by mean, sordid, and wicked passions, it does 
not follow that the constitution is mean, sordid, 
or wicked. What, then, is the question } I will 
state it. But first let me state what is not the 
question. It is not whether slavery existed in 
the United States at the time of the adoption of 
the constitution ; it is not whether slaveholders 
took part in framing the constitution ; it is not 
whether those slaveholders, in their hearts, in- 
tended to secure certain advantages in that instru- 
ment for slavery ; it is not whether the American 
government has been wielded during seventy-two 
years in favor of the propagation and permanence 
of slavery ; it is not whether a pro-slavery inter- 
pretation has been put upon the constitution by 
the American courts — all these points may be 
true, or they may be false, they may be accepted 
or they may be rejected, without in any way affect- 
ing the real question in debate. The real and 
exact question between myself and the class of 
persons represented by the speech at- the City 
Hall may be fairly stated^ ^^^s : First, does the 
United States constitution guarantee to any class 
or description of people in that country the right 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 11 9 

to enslave, or hold as property, any other class or 
description of people in that country? Second, 
is the dissolution of tKe union between the slave 
and free states required by fidelity to the slaves 
or by the just demands of conscience ? Or, in 
other words, is the refusal to exercise the elective 
franchise, and to hold office in America, the sur- 
est, wisest, and best way to abolish slavery in 
America ? To these questions the Garrisonians 
say, yes. They hold the constitution to be a slave- 
holding instrument, and will not cast a vote or 
hold office, and denounce all who vote or hold 
office, no matter how faithfully such persons labor 
to promote the abolition of slavery. I, on the 
other hand, deny that the constitution guarantees 
the right to hold property in man, and believe 
that the way to abolish slavery in America is to 
vote such men into power as will use their powers 
for the abolition of slavery. This is the issue 
plainly stated, and you shall judge between us. 
Before we examine into the disposition, tendency, 
and character of the constitution, I think we had 
better ascertain what the constitution itself is. 
Before looking for what it means, let us see what 
it is. Here, too, there is much dust to be cleared 
away. What, then, is the constitution ? I will 
tell you. It is no vague, indefinite, floating, un- 
substantial, ideal something, colored according to 
any man's fancy, now a weasel, now a whale, and 



I20 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

now nothing. On the contrary, it is a plainly 
written document, not in Hebrew or Greek, but 
in English, beginning with a preamble, filled out 
with articles, sections, provisions, and clauses, 
defining the rights, powers, and duties to be 
secured, claimed, and exercised under its author- 
ity. It is not even like the British constitution, 
which is made up of enactments of Parliament, 
decisions of courts, and the established usages of 
the government. The American constitution is 
a written instrument full and complete in itself. 
No court in America, no Congress, no president, 
can add a single word thereto, or take a single 
word therefrom. It is a great national enact- 
ment done by the people, and can only be altered, 
amended, or added to, by the people. 

" I repeat, the paper itself, and only the paper 
itself, with its own plainly-written purposes is the 
constitution. It must stand or fall, flourish or 
fade, on its own individual and self-declared char- 
acter and objects. Again, where would be the 
advantage of a written constitution, if, instead of 
seeking its meaning in its words, we had to seek 
them in the secret intentions of individuals who 
may have had something to do with writing the 
paper ? What will the people of America a hun- 
dred years hence care about the intentions of the 
scriveners who wrote the constitution '? These 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 12 1 

men are already gone from us, and in the course of 
nature were expected to go from us. They were 
for a generation, but the constitution is for ages. 
Whatever we may owe to them, we certainly owe 
it to ourselves, and to mankind, and to God, to 
maintain the truth of our own language, and to 
allow no villainy, not even the villainy of holding 
men as slaves — which Wesley says is the sum of all 
villainies — to shelter itself under a fair-seeming 
and virtuous language. We owe it to ourselves 
to compel the devil to wear his own garments, and 
to make wicked laws speak out their wicked in- 
tentions. Common sense, and common justice, 
and sound rules of interpretation, all drive us to 
the words of the law for the meaning of the law." 



CHAPTER X. 

Extracts from his Speeches and Lectures — 
Continued. 

On Decoration day, 187 1, Mr. Douglass deliv- 
ered an address before a great concourse of peo- 
ple, including General Grant and his cabinet, in 
which he distinctly points out the motives which 
actuated those who fought on opposite sides in 
the late civil conflict. It is, perhaps, the best of 
his short speeches, and we think there cannot be 
found a more just and eloquent tribute to our 
illustrious dead. Here is what he said : — 

" Friends and Fellow Citizens : Tarry here 
for a moment. My words shall be few and sim- 
ple. The solemn rites of this hour and place call 
for no lengthened speech. There is, in the very 
air of this resting-ground of the unknown dead, a 
silent, subtle, and all pervading eloquence, far 
more touching, impressive, and thrilling than liv- 
ing lips have ever uttered. Into the measureless 
depths of every loyal soul it is now whispering 
lessons of all that is precious, priceless, holiest, 
and most enduring in human existence. 

"Dark and sad v/ill be the hour to this nation 
when it forgets to pay grateful homage to its 
greatest benefactors. The offering we bring to- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 23 

day is due alike to the patriot soldiers dead and 
their noble comrades who still live ; for, whether 
living or dead, whether in time or eternity, the 
loyal soldiers who imperiled all for country and 
freedom are one and inseparable. 

" Those unknown heroes whose whitened bones 
have been piously gathered here, and whose green 
graves we now strew with sweet and beautiful 
flowers, choice emblems alike of pure hearts and 
brave spirits, reached, in their glorious career, that 
last highest point of nobleness beyond which 
human power cannot go. They died for their 
country. 

"No loftier tribute can be paid to the most illus- 
trious of all the benefactors of mankind than we 
pay to these unrecognized soldiers when we write 
above their graves this shining epitaph. 

"When the dark and vengeful spirit of slavery, 
always ambitious, preferring to rule in hell than 
to serve in heaven, fired the Southern heart and 
stirred all the malign elements of discord, when 
our great republic, the hope of freedom and self- 
government throughout the world, had reached 
the point of supreme peril, when the union of 
these states was torn and rent asunder at the 
center, and the armies of a gigantic rebellion 
came forth with broad blades and bloody hands 
to destroy the very foundation of American so- 
ciety, the unknown heroes who flung themselves 



124 I^IF^ OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

into the yawning chasm, amid roaring cannon and 
whistling bullets, with a sublime devotion fought 
and died for their country. 

"We are sometimes asked, in the name of pa- 
triotism, to forget the merits of this fearful strug- 
gle, and to remember with equal admiration those 
who struck at the nation's life and those who 
struck to save it, those who fought for slavery and 
those who fought for liberty and justice. 

" I am no minister of malice. I would not 
strike the fallen. I would not repel the repentant; 
but may ' my right hand forget her cunning, and 
my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,' if I for- 
get the difference between the parties to that 
terrible, protracted, and bloody conflict. 

" If we ought to forget a war which has filled our 
land with widows and orphans ; which has made 
stumps of men of the very flower of our youth ; 
which has sent them on the journey of life arm- 
less, legless, maimed, and mutilated ; which has 
piled up a debt heavier than a mountain of gold, 
swept uncounted thousands of men into bloody 
graves and planted agony at a million hearth- 
stones — I say, if this war is to be forgotten, I ask, 
in the name of all things sacred, what shall men 
remember ? 

" The essence and significance of our devotions 
here to-day are not to be found in the fact that 
the men whose remains fill these graves were 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 25 

brave in battle. If we met simply to show our 
sense of bravery, we should find enough on both 
sides to kindle admiration. In the raging storm 
of fire and blood, in the fierce torrent of shot and 
shell, of sword and bayonet, whether on foot or 
on horse, unflinching courage marked the rebel 
not less than the loyal soldier. 

" But we are not here to applaud manly courage, 
save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. 
We must never forget that victory to the rebellion 
meant death to the republic. We must never for- 
get that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this 
sod fiung themselves between the nation and the 
nation's destroyers. If to-day we have a country 
not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if 
now we have a united country, no longer cursed 
by the hell-black system of human bondage, if 
the American name is no longer a by-word and a 
hissing to a mocking earth, if the star spangled 
banner floats only over free American citizens in 
every quarter of the land, and our country has 
before it a long and glorious career of justice, lib- 
erty, and civilization, we are indebted to the 
unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in 
these honored graves all around us." 

On the 14th of April, 1876, on the occasion of 
the unveiling of the Freedmen's monument in 
memory of Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln park, 
Washington, D. C, Mr. Douglass was the orator 



126 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

of the day, and in his masterly oration spoke elo- 
quently of the life and services of President Lin- 
coln. We give the concluding portion of what 
he said : — 

" Fellow-citizens, whatever else in this world 
may be partial, unjust, and uncertain, time, time ! 
is impartial, just, and certain in its action. In the 
realm of mind, as well as in the realm of matter, 
it is a great worker, and often works wonders. 
The honest and comprehensive statesman, clearly 
discerning the needs of his country, and earnestly 
endeavoring to do his whole duty, though covered 
and blistered with reproaches, may safely leave 
his course to the silent judgment of time. Few 
great public men have ever been the victims of 
fiercer denunciation than Abraham Lincoln was 
during his administration. He was often wounded 
in the house of his friends. Reproaches came 
thick and fast upon him from within and from 
without, and from opposite quarters. He was 
assailed by abolitionists ; he was assailed by slave- 
holders ; he was assailed by the men who were 
for peace at any price ; he was assailed by those 
who were for a more vigorous prosecution of the 
v.^ar ; he was assailed for not making the war an 
abolition war; and he was most bitterly assailed 
for making the war an abolition war. 

"But now behold the change; the judgment of 
the present hour is, that taking him for all in all. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 27 

measuring the tremendous magnitude of the work 
before him, considering the necessary means to 
ends, and surveying the end from the beginning, 
infinite wisdom has seldom sent any man into the 
world better fitted for his mission than Abraham 
Lincoln. His birth, his training, and his natural 
endowments, both mental and physical, were 
strongly in his favor. Born and reared among 
the lowly, a stranger to wealth and luxury, com- 
pelled to grapple single-handed with the flintiest 
hardships of life from tender youth to sturdy 
manhood, he grew strong in the manly and heroic 
qualities demanded by the great mission to which 
he was called by the votes of his countrymen. 
The hard condition of his early life, which would 
have depressed and broken down weaker men, 
only gave greater life, vigor, and buoyancy to the 
heroic spirit of Abraham Lincoln. He was ready 
for any kind and any quality of work. What 
other young men dreaded in the shape of toil, he 
took hold of with the utmost cheerfulness. 

" 'A spade, a rake, a hoe, 
A pickaxe, or a bill ; 
A hook to reap, a scythe to mow, 
A flail, or what you will.' 

"All day long he could split heavy rails in the 
woods, and half the night long he could study his 
English grammar by the uncertain flare and glare 
of the light made by a pine knot. He was at 



128 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

home on the land with his axe, with his maul, 
with gluts, and his wedges ; and he was equally 
at home on water, with his oars, with his poles, 
with his planks, and with his boat-hooks. And 
whether in his flat-boat on the Mississippi river, 
or at the fireside of his frontier cabin, he was a 
man of work. A son of toil himself, he was 
linked in brotherly sympathy with the sons of toil 
in every loyal part of the republic. This very 
fact gave him tremendous power with the Amer- 
ican people, and materially contributed not only 
to electing him to the presidency, but in sus- 
taining his administration of the government. 

" Upon his inauguration as president of the 
United States, an office, even where assumed 
under the most favorable conditions, fitted to tax 
and strain the largest abilities, Abraham Lincoln 
was met by a tremendous crisis. He was called 
upon not merely to administer the government, 
but to decide, in the face of terrible odds, the fate 
of the republic. A formidable rebellion rose in 
his path before him ; the Union was already prac- 
tically dissolved ; his country was torn and rent 
asunder at the center. Hostile armies were al- 
ready organized against the republic, armed with 
the munitions of war which that republic had 
provided for its own defense. The tremendous 
question for him to decide was whether his coun- 
try should survive the crisis and flourish, or be 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 29 

dismembered and perish. His predecessor in 
office had already decided the question in favor 
of national dismemberment by denying to it the 
right of self-defense and self-preservation — a right 
which belongs to the meanest insect. 

" Happily for the country, happily for you and 
for me, the judgment of James Buchanan, the patri- 
cian, was not the judgment of Abraham Lincoln, 
the plebeian. He brought his strong common 
sense, sharpened in the school of adversity, to 
bear upon the question. He did not hesitate, he 
did not falter ; but at once resolved that at what- 
ever peril, at whatever cost, the union of the states 
should be preserved. A patriot himself, his faith 
was strong and unwavering in the patriotism of his 
countrymen. Timid men said before Mr. Lin- 
coln's inauguration, that we had seen the last pres- 
ident of the United States. A voice in influential 
quarters said, 'Let the union slide.' Some said 
that a union maintained by the sword was worth- 
less. Others said a rebellion of eight million can- 
not be suppressed ; but in the midst of all this 
tumult and timidity, and against all this, Abra- 
ham Lincoln was clear in his duty, and had an 
oath in heaven. He calmly and bravely heard 
the voice of doubt and fear all around him ; but 
he had an oath in heaven, and there was not 
power enough on earth to make this honest boat- 
man, backwoodsman, and broad-handed splitter of 

8 



130 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

rails evade or violate that sacred oath. He had 
not been schooled in the ethics of slavery; his 
plain life had favored his love of truth. He had 
not been taught that treason and perjury were 
the proof of honor and honesty. His moral train- 
ing was against his saying one thing when he 
meant another. The trust which Abraham Lin- 
coln had in himself and in the people was sur- 
prising and grand, but it was also enlightened 
and well founded. He knew the American peo- 
ple better than they knew themselves, and his 
truth was based upon this knowledge. 

" Fellow-citizens, the fourteenth day of April, 
1865, of which this is the eleventh anniversary, is 
now and will ever remain a memorable day in the 
annals of this republic. It was on the evening 
of this day, while a fierce and sanguinary rebellion 
was in the last stages of its desolating power; 
while its armies were broken and scattered before 
the invincible armies of Grant and Sherman; 
while a great nation, torn and rent by war, was 
already beginning to raise to the skies loud an- 
thems of joy at the dawn of peace, it was startled, 
amazed, and overwhelmed by the crowning crime 
of slavery — the assassination of Abraham Lin- 
coln. It was a new crime, a pure act of malice. 
No purpose of the rebellion was to be served by 
it. It was the simple gratification of a hell-black 
spirit of revenge. But it has done good, after all. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I3I 

It has filled the country with a deeper abhorrence 
of slavery and a deeper love for the great liberator. 

"Had Abraham Lincoln died from any of the 
numerous ills to which flesh is heir ; had he 
reached that good old age of which his vigorous 
constitution and his temperate habits gave prom- 
ise ; had he been permitted to see the end of his 
great work ; had the solemn curtain of death 
come down but gradually — we should still have 
been smitten with a heavy grief, and treasured 
his name lovingly. But, dying as he did die, by 
the red hand of violence, killed, assassinated, 
taken off v^^ithout warning, not because of per- 
sonal hate — for no man who knew Abraham Lin- 
coln could hate him — but because of his fidelity 
to union and liberty, he is doubly dear to us, and 
his memory will be precious forever. 

" Fellow-citizens, I end as I began, with con- 
gratulations. We have done a good work for our 
race to-day. In doing honor to the memory of 
our friend and liberator, we have been doing 
highest honors to ourselves and those who come 
after us ; we have been fastening ourselves to a 
name and fame imperishable and immortal ; we 
have also been defending ourselves from a blight- 
ing scandal. When now it shall be said that the 
colored man is soulless, that he has no apprecia- 
tion of benefits or benefactors ; when the foul 
reproach of ingratitude is hurled at us, and it is 



132 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

attempted to scourge us beyond the range of 
human brotherhood, we may cahnly point to the 
monument we have this day erected to the mem- 
ory of Abraham Lincoln." 

An eminent divine at the unveihnc: of the 
monument here referred to, after conorratulatine: 
the orator of the day upon his masterly portrayal 
of the character of the martyr president, turned 
to General Grant, who was present, and said : 
" There is but one Frederick Douglass." 

On the anniversary celebration of the emanci- 
pation of slaves in the District of Columbia, Mr. 
Douglass was the orator in the years 18S3, 1885, 
and 1886, respectively. The speeches delivered 
at the time here referred to, are discourses on 
the relations subsisting between the white and 
colored people of the United States, in which 
the orator clearly shows that, though the negro 
possesses personal freedom and the ballot, he 
is still a victim of prejudice and injustice. 

Here is an extract from the first of these 
addresses, delivered in the First Congregational 
Church, April 16, 1883. 

" Let any man now claim for the negro, or, worse 
still, let the negro now claim for himself, any 
right, privilege, or immunity which has hitherto 
been denied by law or custom, and he will at once 
open a fountain of bitterness, and call forth over- 
whelming wrath. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 33 

" It is his sad lot to live in a land where all pre- 
sumptions are arrayed against him, unless we 
except the presumption of inferiority and worth- 
lessness. If his course is downward, he meets 
very little resistance, but if upward, his way is 
disputed at every turn of the road. If he comes 
in rags and in wretchedness, he answers the pub- 
lic demand for a negro, and provokes no anger, 
though he may provoke derision, but if he pre- 
sumes to be a gentleman and a scholar, he is then 
entirely out of his place. He excites resentment 
and calls forth stern and bitter opposition. If he 
offers himself to a builder as a mechanic, to a 
client as a lawyer, to a patient as a physician, to a 
university as a professor, or to a department as a 
clerk, no matter what may be his ability or his 
attainments, there is a presumption, based upon 
his color or his previous condition, of incompe- 
tency, and if he succeeds at all, he has to do so 
against this most discouraging presumption. 

" It is a real calamity, in this country, for any 
man, guilty or not guilty, to be accused of crime, 
but it is an incomparably greater calamity for any 
colored man to be so accused. Justice is often 
painted with bandaged eyes. She is described in 
forensic eloquence, as utterly blind to wealth or 
poverty, high or low, white or black; but a mask 
of iron, however thick, could never blind Ameri- 
can justice, when a black man happens to be on 



134 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

trial. Here, even more than elsewhere, he will 
find all presumptions of law and evidence against 
him. It is not so much the business of his ene- 
mies to prove him guilty, as it is the business of 
himself to prove his innocence. The reasonable 
doubt which is usually interposed to save the life 
and liberty of a white man charged with crime, 
seldom has any force or effect when a colored 
man is accused of crime. Indeed, color is a far 
better protection to the white criminal, than any- 
thing else. In certain parts of our country, when 
any white man wishes to commit a heinous of- 
fense, he wisely resorts to burnt cork and black- 
ens his face, and goes forth under the similitude 
of a negro. When the deed is done, a little soap 
and water destroys his identity, and he goes un- 
whipped of justice. Some negro is at once sus- 
pected and brought before the victim of wrong 
for identification, and there is never much trouble 
here, for as in the eyes of many white people all 
negroes look alike, and as the man who was 
arrested and who sits in the dock in irons is 
black, he is undoubtedly the criminal. 

"A still orreater misfortune to the nes^ro is that 
the press, that engine of omnipotent power, usu- 
ally tries him in advance of the courts, and, when 
once his case is decided in the newspapers, it is 
easy for the jury to bring in its verdict of 'guilty 
as indicted.' 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 35 

" In many parts of our common country, the 
action of courts and juries is entirely too slow 
for the impetuosity of the people's justice. When 
the black man is accused, the mob takes the law 
into its own hands, and whips, shoots, stabs, 
hangs, or burns the accused, simply upon the alle- 
gation or suspicion of crime. Of such proceed- 
ings Southern papers are full. A crime almost 
unknown to the colored man in the time of slav- 
ery seems now, from report, the most common. 
I do not believe these reports. There are too 
many reasons for trumping up such charges. 

"Another feature of the situation is, that this 
mob violence is seldom rebuked by the press and 
the pulpit, in its immediate neighborhood, be- 
cause the public opinion which sustains and 
makes possible such outrages, intimidates both 
press and pulpit. 

"Besides, nobody expects that those who par- 
ticipate in such mob violence will ever be held 
answerable to the law, and punished. Of course, 
judges are not always unjust, nor juries always 
partial in cases of this class, but I affirm that I 
have here given you no picture of the fancy, and 
I have alleged no point incapable of proof, and 
drawn no line darker or denser than the terrible 
reality. The situation is discouraging, but, with 
all its hardships and horrors, I am neither des- 
perate nor despairing as to the future," 



136 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

In the following extract from his second address 
delivered at the Lincoln Memorial Church, April 
16, 1885, he compliments President Cleveland 
upon his inaugural address and expresses the 
hope that he will administer the affairs of the 
government with due regard to the rights of all 
citizens irrespective of race or color. 

These are his words : — 

No better words have dropped from the east 
portico of the Capitol since the inauguration days 
of Abraham Lincoln and General Grant. I be- 
lieve they were sincerely spoken, but whether the 
president will be able to administer the govern- 
ment in the light of those liberal sentiments is an 
open question. The one-man power in our gov- 
ernment is very great, but the power of party 
may be greater. The president is not the auto- 
crat but the executive of the nation. But, happily, 
the executive is yet a power, and may be able to 
obtain the support of the co-ordinate branches of 
the government in so plain a duty as protecting 
the rights of the colored citizens, with those of all 
other citizens of the republic. For one, though 
Republican I am, and have been, and ever expect 
to be, though I did what I could to elect James 
G. Blaine as president of the United States, I am 
disposed to trust President Cleveland. By his 
words, as well as by his oath of office, solemnly 
subscribed to before uncounted thousands of 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 37 

American citizens, he is held and firmly bound to 
execute the constitution of the United States in 
the fullness of its spirit and in the completeness 
of its letter, and thus far he has shown no dispo- 
sition to shrink from that duty. 

" The Southern question is evidently the most 
difficult question with which President Cleveland 
will have to deal. Hard as it may be to manage 
his party on the civil service question, where he 
has only to deal with hungry and thirsty office 
seekers, nineteen out of every twenty of whom he 
must necessarily offend by failing to find desir- 
able places for them, he will find it incomparably 
harder to meet that party's wishes in dealing with 
the Southern question. There are several meth- 
ods of disposing of this Southern question open to 
him, and there are lions in the way, whichever 
method he may adopt. 

" First, he may adopt a policy of total indiffer- 
ence. He may shut his eyes to the fact that in 
all of the Gulf states political rights of colored 
citizens are literally stamped out ; that the consti- 
tution which he has solemnly sworn to support 
and enforce is under the feet of the mob ; that in 
those states there is no such thing as a fair elec- 
tion and an honest count. He may utterly refuse 
to interfere by word or deed for the enforcement 
of the constitution and for the protection of the 
ballot, and let the Southern question drift whither- 



I3B LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

soever it will, to a port of safety or to a rock of 
disaster. He will probably be counseled to pur- 
sue the course of President Hayes, but I hope he 
will refuse to follow it. The reasons which sup- 
ported that policy do not exist in the case of a 
Democratic president. Mr. Hayes made a virtue 
of necessity. He had fair warning that not a 
dollar or a dime would be voted by a Democratic 
Congress if the army were kept in the South. 
The cry of the country was against what was 
called bayonet rule. 

" Secondly, the president may pursue a tem- 
porizing policy ; keep the word of promise to the 
ear and break it to the heart, a half-hearted, a 
neither hot nor cold, a good Lord and a good 
devil policy. He may seek to avoid giving offense 
to any, and thus succeed in pleasing none ; a policy 
which no man or party can pursue without invit- 
ing and earning the scorn and contempt of all 
honest men, and of all honest parties. 

" Thirdly, he may decide to accept the Mis- 
sissippi plan of conducting elections at the South; 
encourage violence and crime ; elevate to office 
the men whose hands are reddest with innocent 
blood ; force the negroes out of Southern politics 
by the shotgun and the bulldozer's whip ; cheat 
them out of the elective franchise ; suppress the 
Republican vote ; kill off their white leaders, and 
keep the South solid ; and keep its one hundred 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 39 

and fifty-three electoral votes — obtained thus by 
force, fraud, and red-handed violence — ready to be 
cast for a Democratic candidate in 1888. This 
might be acceptable to a certain class of Demo- 
crats at the South, but the Democrats at the 
North would abhor and denounce it as a bloody 
and hell-black policy. It would hurl the party 
from power in spite of the solid South, and keep 
it out of power another four and twenty years. 

*' Fourthly, he may sustain a policy of absolute 
fidelity to all the requirements of the constitution 
as it is, and, as John Adams said of the Declara- 
tion of Independence, he may bravely say to the 
South and to the nation : ' Sink or swim, sur- 
vive or perish, I am for the constitution in all its 
parts ! I will be true to my oath, and I will, to 
the best of my ability, and to the fullest extent of 
my power, defend, protect, and maintain the rights 
of all citizens, without respect to race or color.' 

" There can be no doubt as to which of these 
methods of treating the Southern question is the 
most honest and safe one. There may be many 
wrong ways for individuals or nations to pursue, 
but there is but one right way, and it remains to 
be seen if this is the one the present administra- 
tion will adopt and pursue. Left to the prompt- 
ings of his own heart and his own view of his 
constitutional duties, and to his own sense of the 
requirements of consistency and even expediency, 



l^O LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, 

I firmly believe that President Cleveland would do 
his utmost to protect and defend the constitutional 
rights of all classes of citizens. But he is not left 
to himself, and may adopt a different policy. 

"One thing seems plain, which it is well for 
all parties to know and consider. It is this : 
There are seven million of colored citizens now 
in this republic. They stand between the two 
great parties — the Republican party and the Dem- 
ocratic party — and whichever of these two parties 
shall be most just and true to these seven million 
may safely count upon a long lease of power in 
this republic. It is not their votes alone that will 
tell. There is deep down among the people of 
this country a love of justice and fair play, and 
that fact will tell. It is now as it was in the time 
of war, and it will be so in all time. The party 
which takes the negro on its side will triumph. 
The w^orld moves, and the conditions of success 
and failure have changed." 

At another place in the same address, he boldly 
and truthfully assigns as the chief reason which 
caused the defeat of the Republican party in the 
presidential campaign of 1884, the subordination 
of the principle of protection to the rights of citi- 
zens in the issues presented to the country. 

The words to which we refer are as follows : — 

"The great mistake made by the leaders of the 
Republican party during the late canvass was the 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I4I 

failure to recognize the facts now stated, and their 
refusal to act upon them. They had become 
tired of the old issues and wanted new ones. 
They made their appeal to the pocket of the 
nation, and not to the heart of the nation. They 
attended to the mint, anise, and cummin of poli- 
tics, but omitted the weightier matters of the law 
— judgment, mercy, and faith. They were loud 
for the protection of things, but silent for the pro- 
tection of men. These things they ought to have 
done, and not to have left the other undone. 

" The idea that righteousness exalteth a nation, 
and that sin is a reproach to any people, was, for 
a time, lost sight of. The all engrossing thought 
of the campaign was a judicious, discriminating, 
protective tariff. The great thing was protection 
to the wool of Ohio ; to the iron of Pennsylvania, 
and to American manufacturers generally. Lit- 
tle was said, thought, or felt about national integ- 
rity, the importance of maintaining good faith 
with thefreedmen or the Indian, or the protection 
of the constitutional rights of American citizens, 
except where such rights were in no danger. 

" The great thing to be protected was American 
industry against competition with the pauper 
labor of Europe — not protection of the starving 
labor of the South. The body of the nation was 
everything; the soul of the nation was nothing. 
It did not appear from the campaign speeches 



142 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

that it was important to protect and preserve 
both, or that the body was not more dependent 
upon bread for Hfe than was the soul dependent 
upon truth, justice, benevolence, and good faith 
for health and life. In the absence of these, the 
soul of the nation starves, sickens, and dies. It 
may not fall at once upon the withdrawal of these, 
but persistent injustice will, in the end, do its cer- 
tain work of moral destruction. No nation, no 
party, no man, can live long and flourish on false- 
hood, deceit, injustice, and broken pledges. Loy- 
alty will perish where protection and good faith 
are denied and withheld, and nothing other than 
this should be expected, either by a party, a man, 
or by a government. On the other hand, where 
good faith is maintained, where justice is upheld, 
where truth and right prevail, the government 
will be like the wise man's house in scripture — the 
winds may blow, the rains may descend, the floods 
may come and beat upon it, but it will stand, be- 
cause it is founded upon the solid rock of princi- 
ple. I speak this, not only for the Republican 
party, but for all parties. Though I am a party 
man, to me parties are valuable only as they sub- 
serve the ends of good government. When they 
persistently violate the fundamental rights of the 
humblest and weakest in the land I scout them, 
despise them, and leave them." 

The third address was delivered in the Israel 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 43 

Methodist Church, April i6, 1886. The orator 
speaks of the rapid growth of Washington under 
freedom, and in the following passage vividly 
pictures what it would have become, if slavery 
had continued : — 

" Fellow-citizens, we are proud to-day, and justly 
proud, of the prosperity and the increasing liber- 
ality of Washington. With all our fellow-citizens 
we behold it with pride and pleasure rising and 
spreading noiselessly around us, almost like the 
temple of Solomon, without the sound of a ham- 
mer. New faces meet us at the corners of the 
streets and greet us in the market places. Con- 
veniences and improvements are multiplying on 
every hand. We walk in the shade of its beauti- 
ful trees by day, and in the rays of its soft electric 
lights by night. We make it warm where it is 
cool, and cool where it is warm, and healthy where 
it is noxious. Our magnificence fills the stranger 
and sojourner with admiration and wonder. The 
contrast between the old time of slavery and the 
new dispensation of liberty looms upon us on 
every hand. We feel it in the very air we breathe, 
and in the friendly aspect of all around us. But 
time would fail to tell of the vast and wonderful 
advancement in civilization made in this city by 
the abolition of slavery. 

Perhaps a better idea could be formed of what 
has been done for Washington and for us by 



144 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

imagining what would be the case in a return to 
the old condition of things. Imagine the wheels 
of progress reversed ; imagine that by some 
strange and mysterious- freak of fortune slavery, 
with all its horrid concomitants, was revived ; 
imagine that under the dome of yonder Capitol 
legislation was carried on, as formerly, by men 
with pistols in their belts and bullets in their pock- 
ets ; imagine the right of speech denied, the right 
of petition stamped out, the press of the District 
muzzled, and a word in the streets against slavery 
the sign for a mob ; imagine a lone woman like 
Miss Myrtilla Miner, having to defend her right to 
teach colored girls to read and write, with a pistol 
in her hand, here in this very city, now dotted all 
over with colored schools, which rival in magnif- 
icence the white schools of any other city of the 
Union ; imagine this, and more, and ask your- 
selves the question : What progress has been 
made in liberty and civilization within the borders 
of this capital ? Further on let us ask : Of what 
avail would be our cloud-capped towers, our gor- 
geous palaces, and our solemn temples if slavery 
again held sway here .? Of what avail would be 
our marble halls if once more they resounded with 
the crack of the slave whip, the clank of the fetter, 
and the rattle of chains ; if slave auctions were 
held in front of the halls of justice, and chain- 
gangs were marched over Pennsylvania avenue to 



>^ 



%>i ^^]i 




FREDERICK DOUGLASS, JR. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 45 

the Long Bridge, for the New Orleans market ? 
Of what avail would be our state dinners, our 
splendid receptions, if, like Babylon of old, our 
people were making merchandise of God's image, 
trafficking in human blood and in the souls and 
bodies of men ? Were this District once more 
covered with this moral blight and mildew, you 
would hear of no plans, as now, for celebrating 
within its borders the centennial anniversary of 
the adoption of the constitution of the United 
States. Bold and audacious as were the advo- 
cates of slavery in the olden time, they would have 
been ashamed to invite here the representatives 
of the civilized world to inspect the workings of 
their slave system. To have done so would have 
been like inviting a clean man to touch pitch, a 
humane man to witness an execution, a tender- 
hearted woman to witness a slaughter. In its 
boldest days slavery drew in its claws and pre- 
sented a velvet paw to strangers. They knew it 
was like Lord Granby's character, which could 
only pass without reprobation as it passed with- 
out observation. Emancipation liberated the mas- 
ter as well as the slave. The fact that our citizens 
are now loudly proclaiming Washington to be the 
right place for the celebration of the discovery of 
the continent by Columbus, and the adoption of 
the constitution of the United States, is an ac- 
knowledgment of and attestation of the higher 
10 



146 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

civilization that has, in their judgment, come here 
with the abolition of slavery. They no longer 
dread the gaze of civilized men. They no longer 
fear lest a word of liberty should fall into the ear 
of a trembling captive and awaken his manhood. 
They are no longer required to defend with their 
lips what they must have condemned in their 
hearts. When the galling chain dropped from 
the limbs of the slave, the mantle of shame 
dropped from the brows of their masters. The 
emancipation of the one was the deliverance of 
the other; so that this day, in fact, belongs to the 
one as truly as it belongs to the other, though it is 
left to us alone to keep it in memory." 

The largest and most representative conven- 
tion of colored men ever held in the United 
States was held in Liederkranz Hall, Louisville, 
Kentucky, September 25-27, 1883. It was, in 
fact, their first real national convention. There 
were in attendance nearly three hundred dele- 
gates from twenty-eight states, Mr. Douglass 
was chosen permanent president and addressed 
the convention. His speech on this occasion, for 
sound reasoning and eloquence of expression, is 
not surpassed by the most distinguished orators 
of our time. 

The Louisville Courier-Journal, one of the 
best known Democratic newspapers in the coun- 
try, in its issue of September 26, speaking of 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, 1 47 

the convention and Mr. Douglass' great effort 
says : — 

" The convention was called to order by Hon. 
Frederick Douglass, the permanent chairman, 
who called upon Dr. Arnett, of Nashville, to offer 
prayer. At its close, the New Orleans Jubilee 
Singers chanted the Lord's prayer in a most 
exquisite and impressive manner. The chairman 
then introduced Dr. K. Fitzbutler, who delivered 
an address of welcome to the delegates. His 
remarks v/ere well put and were received with 
applause. 

" Mr. Douglass then began his address in a sub- 
dued tone of voice, but as he warmed up he grew 
louder and soon filled the hall with his utterances. 
Discovering in the audience Hon. James Speed, 
President Lincoln's last attorney-general, and 
Gen. James A. Ekin, the speaker invited them to 
the stage, where they were seated on the left of the 
speaker. The hall was filling rapidly, and by the 
time Douglass began to infuse the audience with 
the inspiration that he felt, a large number of 
white citizens were seated in the hall. It was evi- 
dent from the first that the convention expected 
something grand, and it is but the truth to say that 
they were not disappointed in Mr. Douglass. In 
the language of R. A. Jones, of Cleveland, Ohio, 
* It was the grandest effort ever made by a col- 
ored American.' As he proceeded, he came to 



148 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

many places where he seemed to halt in his prog- 
ress, and, in lofty flights of eloquence and logic, 
ascend to a plane never visited by speakers en- 
gaged in the discussion of the questions which he 
had taken up. It frequently became necessary 
for him to wait several moments for the enthu- 
siasm to subside." 

Here are a few passages from the Louisville 
speech : — 

" Why are we here in this national conven- 
tion } To this we answer, first, because there is 
a power in numbers and in union ; because the 
many are more than the few ; because the voice 
of a whole people, oppressed by a common injus- 
tice, is far more likely to command attention and 
exert an influence on the public mind, than the 
voice of single individuals and isolated organiza- 
tions ; because, coming together from all parts of 
the country, the members of a national conven- 
tion have the means of a more comprehensive 
knowledge of the general situation, and may, 
therefore, fairly be presumed to conceive more 
clearly and express more fully and wisely the 
policy it may be necessary for them to pursue in 
the premises. Because conventions of the people 
are in themselves harmless, and when made the 
means of setting forth grievances, whether real 
or fancied, they are the safety-valves of the re- 
public, a wise and safe substitute for violence. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I49 

dynamite, and all sorts of revolutionary action 
against the peace and good order of society. If 
they are held without sufficient reason, that fact 
will be made manifest in their proceedings, and 
people will only smile at their weakness and pass 
on to their usual business without troubling 
themselves about the empty noise they are able 
to make. But if held with good cause and by 
wise, sober, and earnest men, that fact will be 
made apparent and the result will be salutary. 
That good old maxim, which has come down to 
us from revolutionary times, that error may be 
safely tolerated, while truth is left free to combat 
it, applies here. A bad law is all the sooner re- 
pealed by being executed, and error is sooner dis- 
pelled by exposure than by silence. So much we 
have deemed it fit to say of conventions generally, 
because our resort to this measure has been 
treated by many as if there were something radi- 
cally wrong in the very idea of a convention. It 
has been treated as if it were some ghastly, secret 
conclave, sitting in darkness to devise strife and 
mischief. The fact is, the only serious feature in 
the argument against us is the one which respects 
color. We are asked not only why hold a con- 
vention, but, with emphasis, why hold a colored 
convention ? Why keep up this odious distinc- 
tion between citizens of a common country and 
thus give countenance to the color line ? It \% 



150 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

argued that, if colored men hold conventions 
based upon color, white men may hold white con- 
ventions based upon color, and thus keep open 
the chasm between one and the other class of 
citizens, and keep alive a prejudice which we pro- 
fess to deplore. We state the argument against 
us fairly and forcibly, and will answer it candidly 
and, we hope, conclusively. By that answer it will 
be seen that the force of the objection is, after all, 
more in sound than in substance. No reasonable 
man will ever object to white men holding con- 
ventions in their own interests, when they are 
once in our condition and we in theirs, when they 
are the oppressed and we the oppressors. In 
point of fact, however, white men are already in 
convention against us in various ways and at 
many important points. The practical construc- 
tion of American life is a convention against us. 
Human law may know no distinction among men 
in respect of rights, but human practice may. 
Examples are painfully abundant. 

" Civil Rights. 
" The right of every American citizen to select 
his own society, and invite whom he will to his 
own parlor and table, should be sacredly re- 
spected. A man's house is his castle, and he has 
a right to admit or refuse admission to it as he 
may please, and defend his house from all in- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I51 

truders even with force, if need be. This right 
belongs to the humblest not less than the high- 
est, and the exercise of it by any of our citizens 
toward any person or class who may presume to 
intrude, should cause no complaint, for each and 
all may exercise the same right toward whom he 
will. 

" When he quits his home and goes upon the 
public street, enters a public car or a public house, 
he has no exclusive right of occupancy. He is 
only a part of the great public, and while he has 
the right to walk, ride, and be accommodated with 
food and shelter in a public conveyance or hotel, 
he has no exclusive right to say that another citi- 
zen, tall or short, black or white, shall not have the 
same civil treatment with himself. The argu- 
ment against equal rights at hotels is very im- 
properly put upon the ground that the exercise 
of such rights is social equality. But this ground 
is unreasonable. It is hard to say what social 
equality is, but it is certain that going into the 
same street car, hotel, or steamboat cabin, does 
not make any man society for another any more 
than flying in the same air makes all birds of 
one feather. 

" Two men may be seated at the same table at 
a hotel, one may be a Webster in intellect, and 
the other a Guiteau in feebleness of mind and 
morals, and, of course, socially and intellectually 



152 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

they are as wide apart as are the poles of the 
moral universe, but their civil rights are the same. 
The distinction between the two sorts of equality 
is broad and plain to the understanding of the 
most limited, and yet, blinded by prejudice, men 
never cease to confound one with the other, and 
allow themselves to infringe the civil rights of 
their fellow-citizens, as if those rights were in 
some way in violation of their social rights. 

" That this denial of rights to us is because of 
our color, only as color is a badge of condition, is 
manifest in the fact that no matter how decently 
dressed or well-behaved a colored man may be, 
he is denied civil treatment in the ways thus 
pointed out, unless he comes as a servant. His 
color, not his character, determines the place he 
shall hold and the kind of treatment he shall re- 
ceive. That this is due to a prejudice and has no 
rational principle under it, is seen in the fact that 
the presence of colored persons in hotels and rail 
cars is only offensive when they are there as guests 
and passengers. As servants they are welcome, 
but as equal citizens they are not. It is also seen 
in the further fact that nowhere else on the globe, 
except in the United States, are colored people 
subject to insult and outrage on account of color. 
The colored traveler in Europe does not meet it, 
and we denounce it here as a disgrace to Ameri- 
can civilization and American religion and as a 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLSKS. 1 53 

violation of the spirit and letter of the constitu- 
tion of the United States, From those courts 
which have solemnly sworn to support the con- 
stitution, and that yet treat this provision of it 
with contempt, we appeal to the people, and call 
upon our friends to remember our civil rights at 
the ballot-box. On the point of the two equali- 
ties we are determined to be understood, 

" We leave social equality where it should be 
left, with each individual man and woman. No 
law can regulate or control it. It is a matter 
with which governments have nothing whatever 
to do. Each may choose his own friends and 
associates without interference or dictation of any. 

" Political Equality. 
" Flagrant as have been the outrages com- 
mitted upon colored citizens in respect to their 
civil rights, more flagrant, shocking, and scan- 
dalous still have been the outrages committed 
upon our political rights, by means of bulldoz- 
ing and Kukluxing, Mississippi plans, fraudulent 
counts, tissue ballots, and the like devices. Three 
states in which the colored people outnumber the 
white population are without colored representa- 
tion, and their political voice suppressed. The 
colored citizens in those states are virtually dis- 
franchised, the constitution held in utter con- 
tempt, and its provisions nullified. This has been 



154 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

done in the face of the Republican party and 
successive Republican administrations. 

" It was once said by the great O'Connell that 
the history of Ireland might be traced like a 
wounded man through a crowd by the blood, and 
the same may be truly said of the history of the 
colored voters of the South. 

" They have marched to the ballot-box in face 
of gleaming weapons, wounds, and death. They 
have been abandoned by the government and 
left to the laws of nature. So far as they are con- 
cerned, there is no government or constitution 
of the United States. They are under control of 
a foul, haggard, and damning conspiracy against 
reason, law, and constitution. How you can be 
indifferent, how any leading colored men can 
allow themselves to be silent in presence of this 
state of things, we cannot see. 

" ' Should tongues be mute while deeds are wrought 
Which well might shame extremest hell?' 

And yet they are mute, and condemn our assem- 
bling here to speak out in manly tones against 
the continuance of this infernal reign of terror. 

" This is no question of party. It is a question 
of law and government. It is a question whether 
men shall be protected by law or be left to the 
mercy of cyclones of anarchy and bloodshed. It 
is whether the government or the mob shall rule 
this land ; whether the promises solemnly made 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 55 

to US in the constitution be manfully kept or 
meanly and flagrantly broken. Upon this vital 
point we ask the whole people of the United 
States to take notice that whatever of political 
power we have shall be exerted for no man of 
any party who will not in advance of election 
promise to use every power given him by the gov- 
ernment, state or national, to make the black 
man's path to the ballot-box as straight, smooth, 
and safe as that of any other American citizen. 

" Political Ambition. 

" We are as a people often reproached with am- 
bition for political ofiBces and honors. We are 
not ashamed of this alleged ambition. Our des- 
titution of such ambition would be our real shame. 
If the six millions and a half of people whom we 
represent could develop no aspirants to political 
office and honor under this government, their 
mental indifference, barrenness, and stolidity 
might well enough be taken as proof of their un- 
fitness for American citizenship. 

" It is no crime to seek or hold office. If it were 
it would take a larger space than that of Noah's 
ark to hold the white criminals. 

" One of the charges against this convention is 
that it seeks for the colored people a larger share 
than they now possess in the offices and emolu- 
ments of the government. 



156 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

" We are now significantly reminded by even 
one of our own members that we are only twenty 
years out of slavery, and we ought therefore to be 
modest in our aspirations. Such leaders should 
remember that men will not be religious when the 
devil turns preacher. 

" The inveterate and persistent office-seeker and 
office-holder should be modest when he preaches 
that virtue to others which he does not himself 
practice. Wolsey could not tell Cromwell to 
fling away ambition properly only when^ he had 
flung away his own. 

" We are far from affirming that there may not 
be too much zeal among colored men in pursuit 
of political preferment ; but the fault is not 
wholly theirs. They have young men among 
them noble and true, who are educated and intel- 
ligent — fit to engage in enterprise of ' pith and 
moment ' — who find themselves shut out from 
nearly all the avenues of wealth and respecta- 
bility, and hence they turn their attention to poli- 
tics. They do so because they can find nothing 
else. The best cure for the evil is to throw open 
other avenues and activities to them. 

" We shall never cease to be a despised and per- 
secuted class while we are known to be excluded 
by our color from all important positions under 
the government. 

" While we do not make office the one thing im- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 57 

portant, nor the one condition of our alliance 
with any party, and hold that the welfare, pros- 
perity, and happiness of our whole country is the 
true criterion of political action for ourselves and 
for all men, we cannot disguise from ourselves the 
fact that our persistent exclusion from office as a 
class is a great wrong, fraught with injury, and 
ought to be resented and opposed by all reason- 
able and effective means in our power. 

" We hold it to be self-evident that no class or 
color should be the exclusive rulers of this coun- 
try. If there is such a ruling class, there must 
of course be a subject class, and when this condi- 
tion is once established this government of the 
people, by the people, and for the people will have 
perished from the earth." 

In the city of Washington, D. C, October 
22, 1883, a vast number of citizens assembled in 
Lincoln hall to give expression to their views 
concerning the recent decision of the Supreme 
Court of the United States, in which it is held 
that the Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional. 
Addresses were delivered by Hon. Frederick 
Douglass, Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, Judge Sam- 
uel Shellabarger, and Rev. J. E. Rankin, D.D. 

The Natio7ial Republican the next morning in 
its comment upon the meeting, said : " In all its 
history Lincoln hall was never so crowded as last 
night. There was no standing room — there was 



158 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

scarcely even breathing room. Stage and floor 
were alike crowded. There were over two thou- 
sand persons inside the doors, and double that 
number turned reluctantly away after finding it 
impossible to get in. In point of numbers it was 
the largest meeting ever gathered in a Washing- 
ton hall. The occasion was as equally remark- 
able as the attendance in bringing together all the 
most prominent colored citizens of the district, as 
well as many distinguished whites. All the famous 
leaders of the race were present — Frederick Doug- 
lass, Blanche Bruce, Richard T. Greener, John F. 
Cook, Rev. Francis Grimke, and others. Present 
with them were such white representatives as Col. 
R. G. Ingersoll, Rev. J. E. Rankin, Judge Shella- 
barger, President Patton of Howard University, 
and others equally famous for their efforts in the 
religious and political world in behalf of equal 
rights and justice. Hundreds of white ladies 
were seated on the stage and in the audience. 

"A few of those on the stage were Judge Law- 
rence, A. M. Clapp, Judge Shellabarger, M. M. 
Holland, Rev. G. W. Moore, Perry Carson, Col- 
lector Cook, Rev. Francis Grimke, Prof. Gregory, 
Frederick Douglass, Jr., L. H. Douglass, Rev. 
A. W. Upshaw, Rev. William Waring, Dr. O. M. 
Atwood, Dr. Francis, Calvin Chase, Mrs. Belva 
Lockwood, President W. W. Patton of Howard 
University, Prof. Wiley Lane." 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 59 

Prof. J. M. Gregory presided, and in introduc- 
ing Hon. Frederick Douglass, said : — 

'* It is our good fortune to have with us one who 
needs no extended introduction to an American 
audience ; a man whose fame, not confined to the 
borders of his own country, has gone throughout 
the civilized world, and whose utterances at the 
late Louisville convention, fresh in the minds of 
all, were compared by the press of the country 
with the great speeches of England's statesmen, 
John Bright and William Gladstone. This emi- 
nent man, whom it is my privilege to introduce, is 
the acknowledged leader of the negro race in 
America, and that people look to him, more than 
to any other, for advice and guidance at this par- 
ticular crisis in their history. The Honorable 
Frederick Douglass will now address you." 

Mr. Douglass came forward amid deafening 
applause and delivered one of the ablest speeches 
of his life. We quote a few passages to show his 
style of vehement eloquence and invective, and to 
give some idea of his exhaustive argument. 

" The cause which has brought us here to-night 
is neither common nor trivial. Few events in 
our national history have surpassed it in magni- 
tude, importance, and significance. It has swept 
over the land like a moral cyclone, leaving moral 
desolation in its track. 

•' We feel it as we felt the furious attempt, 



l6o LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

years ago, to force the accursed system of slavery 
upon the soil of Kansas, the enactment of the 
Fugitive Slave Bill, the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise, the Dred Scott decision. I look 
upon it as one more shocking development of 
that moral weakness in high places which has 
attended the conflict between the spirit of liberty 
and the spirit of slavery from the beginning, and 
I venture to predict that it will be so regarded by 
after-coming generations. 

" Far down the ages, when men shall wish to 
inform themselves as to the real state of liberty, 
law, religion, and civilization in the United States 
at this juncture of our history, they will overhaul 
the proceedings of the Supreme Court, and read 
the decision declaring the Civil Rights Bill uncon- 
stitutional and void. 

" From this they will learn more than from 
many volumes, how far we have advanced, in this 
year of grace, from barbarism toward civilization. 

" Fellow-citizens, among the great evils which 
now stalk abroad in our land, the one, I think, 
which most threatens to undermine and destroy 
the foundations of our free institutions is the great 
and apparently increasing want of respect enter- 
tained for those to whom are committed the re- 
sponsibility and the duty of administering our 
government. On this point I think all good men 
must agree, and against this evil I trust you feel, 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. l6l 

and we all feel, the deepest repugnance, and that 
we will, neither here nor elsewhere, give it the 
least breath of sympathy or encouragement. We 
should never forget, that whatever may be the in- 
cidental mistakes or misconduct of rulers, gov- 
ernment is better than anarchy, and patient reform 
is better than violent revolution. 

" But while I would increase this feeling, and 
give it the emphasis of a voice from heaven, it 
must not be allowed to interfere with free speech, 
honest expression, and fair criticism. To give up 
this would be to give up liberty, to give up prog- 
ress, and to consign the nation to moral stagna- 
tion, putrefaction, and death. 

" In the matter of respect for dignitaries, it 
should never be forgotten, however, that duties 
are reciprocal, and while the people should frown 
down every manifestation of levity and contempt 
for those in power, it is the duty of the possessors 
of power so to use it as to deserve and insure re- 
spect and reverence. 

" To come a little nearer to the case now before 
us. The Supreme Court of the United States, in 
the exercise of its high and vast constitutional 
power, has suddenly and unexpectedly decided 
that the law, intended to secure to colored people 
the civil rights guaranteed to them by the follow- 
ing provision of the constitution of the United 
States, is unconstitutional and void. Here it is : — 



1 62 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

" ' No state,' says the fourteenth amendment, 
' shall make or enforce any law which shall 
abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of 
the United States; nor shall any state deprive 
any person of life, liberty, or property, without 
due process of law ; nor deny any person within 
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.' 

" Now, when a bill has been discussed for weeks 
and months, and even years, in the press and on 
the platform, in Congress and out of Congress ; 
when it has been calmly debated by the clearest 
heads, and the most skillful and learned lawyers 
in the land ; when every argument against it has 
been over and over again carefully considered 
and fairly answered ; when its constitutionality 
has been especially discussed, /r<? and coii ; when 
it has passed the United State House of Repre- 
sentatives, and has been solemnly enacted by the 
United States Senate, perhaps the most imposing 
legislative body in the world ; when such a bill 
has been submitted to the cabinet of the nation, 
composed of the ablest men in the land ; when it 
has passed under the scrutinizing eye of the attor- 
ney-general of the United States; when the exec- 
utive of the nation has given to it his name and 
formal approval ; when it has taken its place 
upon the statute book, and has remained there for 
nearly a decade, and the country has largely 
assented to it, you will agree with me that the 




Hon. JOHN M. HARLAN, 

Associate Justice U. S. Supreme Court. 

Justice Harlan dissented from his colleagues in the Civil Rights Bill decision, by 

upholding its constitutionality. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 63 

reasons for declaring such a law unconstitutional 
and void should be strong, irresistible, and abso- 
lutely conclusive. 

" Inasmuch as the law in question is a law in 
favor of liberty and justice, it ought to have had 
the benefit of any doubt which could arise as to 
its strict constitutionality. This, I believe, will 
be the view taken of it, not only by laymen like 
myself, but by eminent lawyers as well." 

#-it- -it. -v, ^ ^ .if. 

-7{- -TV- -fr -K* ■Vt- -ffi 

" Color prejudice is not the only prejudice 
against which a republic like ours should guard. 
The spirit of caste is dangerous everywhere. 
There is the prejudice of the rich against the 
poor, the pride and prejudice of the idle dandy 
against the hard handed working man. There 
is, worst of all, religious prejudice ; a prejudice 
which has stained a whole continent with blood. 
It is, in fact, a spirit infernal, against which every 
enlightened man should wage perpetual war. Per- 
haps no class of our fellow-citizens has carried this 
prejudice against color to a point more extreme 
and dangerous than have our Catholic Irish fel- 
low-citizens, and yet no people on the face of the 
earth have been more relentlessly persecuted and 
oppressed on account of race and religion, than 
the Irish people. 

"But in Ireland, persecution has at last reached 
a point where it reacts terribly upon her persecu- 



164 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

tors. England to-day is reaping the bitter con- 
sequences of her injustice and oppression. Ask 
any man of intelligence to-day, ' What is the chief 
source of England's weakness.'* ' ' What has re- 
duced her to the rank of a second-class power ? ' 
and the answer will be ' Irelaiid !' Poor, ragged, 
hungry, starving, and oppressed as she is, she is 
strong enough to be a standing menace to the 
power and glory of England. 

" Fellow-citizens ! we want no black Ireland 
in America. We want no aggrieved class in 
America. Strong as we are without the negro, 
we are stronger with him than without him. The 
power and friendship of seven millions of people 
scattered all over the country, however humble, 
are not to be despised. 

"To-day, our republic sits as a queen among 
the nations of the earth. Peace is within her 
walls and plenteousness within her palaces, but 
he is a bolder and a far more hopeful man than I 
am, who will affirm that this peace and prosperity 
will always last. History repeats itself. What 
has happened once may happen again. 

" The negro, in the Revolution, fought for us 
and with us. In the war of 18 12 General Jack- 
son, at New Orleans, found it necessary to call 
upon the colored people to assist in its defense 
against England. Abraham Lincoln found it 
necessary to call upon the negro to defend the 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 65 

Union against rebellion, and the negro responded 
gallantly in all cases. 

" Our legislators, our presidents, and our judges 
should have a care, lest, by forcing these people 
outside of law, they destroy that love of country 
which is needful to the nation's defense in the 
day of trouble. I am not here, in this presence, 
to discuss the constitutionality or unconstitution- 
ality of this decision of the Supreme Court. The 
decision may or may not be constitutional. That 
is a question for lawyers, and not for laymen, and 
there are lawyers on this platform as learned, able, 
and eloquent as any who have appeared in this 
case before the Supreme Court, or as any in the 
land. To these I leave the exposition of the con- 
stitution ; but I claim the right to remark upon a 
strange and glaring inconsistency with former 
decisions, in the action of the court on this Civil 
Rights Bill. It is a new departure, entirely out 
of the line of the precedents and decisions of the 
Supreme Court at other times and in other direc- 
tions where the rights of colored men were con- 
cerned. It has utterly ignored and rejected the 
force and application of object and intention as a 
rule of interpretation. It has construed the con- 
stitution in defiant disregard of what was the 
object and intention of the adoption of the four- 
teenth amendment. It has made no account 
whatever of the intention and purpose of Con- 



1 66 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

gress and the president in putting the Civil 
Rights Bill upon the statute book of the nation. 
It has seen fit in this case, affecting a weak and 
much persecuted people, to be guided by the nar- 
rowest and most restricted rules of legal inter- 
pretation. It has viewed both the constitution 
and the law with a strict regard to their letter, 
but without any generous recognition of their 
broad and liberal spirit. Upon those narrow 
principles the decision is logical and legal, of 
course. But what I complain of, and what every 
lover of liberty in the United States has a right 
to complain of, is this sudden and causeless re- 
versal of all the great rules of legal interpretation 
by which this court was governed in other days, 
in the construction of the constitution and of 
laws respecting colored people. 

" In the dark days of slavery, this court, on all 
occasions, gave the greatest importance to inten- 
tion as a guide to interpretation. The object and 
intention of the law, it was said, must prevail. 
Everything in favor of slavery and against the 
negro was settled by this object and intention. 
The constitution was construed according to its 
inientio7i. We were over and over again referred 
to what the framers meant, and plain language 
was sacrificed that the so affirmed i7ite7itio7i of 
these framers niight be positively asserted. When 
we said in behalf of the negro that the constitu- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 67 

tion of the United States was intended to estab- 
lish justice and to secure the blessings of liberty 
to ourselves and our posterity, we were told that 
the words said so, but that that was obviously not 
its intention ; that it was intended to apply only 
to white people, and that the intention must 
govern. 

" When we came to that clause of the constitu- 
tion which declares that the immigration or im- 
portation of such persons as any of the states may 
see fit to admit shall not be prohibited, and the 
friends of liberty declared that that provision of 
the constitution did not describe the slave trade, 
they were told that while its language applied 
not to slaves, but to persons, still the object 
and intention of that clause of the constitution 
was plainly to protect the slave trade, and that 
that intention was the law. When we came to that 
clause of the constitution which declares that 
' No person held to service or labor in one state, 
under the laws thereof, escaping into another, 
shall in consequence of any law or regulation 
therein be discharged from such service or labor, 
but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to 
whom such service or labor may be due,' we in- 
sisted that it neither described nor applied to 
slaves ; that it applied only to persons owing 
service and labor, that slaves did not and could 
not owe service and labor ; that this clause of the 



1 68 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

constitution said nothing of slaves or the mas- 
ters of slaves ; that it was silent as to slave states 
or free states ; that it was simply a provision to 
enforce a contract ; to discharge an obligation 
between two persons capable of making a con- 
tract, and not to force any man into slavery, for 
the slave could not owe service or make a con- 
tract. 

" We affirmed that it gave no warrant for what 
was called the ' Fugitive Slave Bill,' and we 
contended that that bill was therefore unconstitu- 
tional ; but our arguments were laughed to scorn 
by that court. We were told that the intention 
of the constitution was to enable masters to re- 
capture their slaves, and that the law of ninety- 
three and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 were 
constitutional. 

" Fellow-citizens ! while slavery was the base 
line of American society, while it ruled the church 
and the state, while it was the interpreter of our 
law and the exponent of our religion, it admitted 
no quibbling, no narrow rules of legal or scrip- 
tural interpretations of Bible or constitution. It 
sternly demanded its pound of flesh, no matter 
how much blood was shed in the taking of it. 
It was enough for it to be able to show the i7iten- 
tion to get all it asked in the courts or out of the 
courts. But now slavery is abolished. Its reign 
was long, dark, and bloody. Liberty now is the 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 69 

base line of the republic. Liberty has supplanted 
slavery, but I fear it has not supplanted the spirit 
or power of slavery. Where slavery was strong, 
liberty is now weak. 

"Oh, for a Supreme Court of the United States 
which shall be as true to the claims of humanity, 
as the Supreme Court formerly was to the de- 
mands of slavery ! When that day comes, as 
come it will, a Civil Rights Bill will not be de- 
clared unconstitutional and void, in utter and 
flagrant disregard of the objects and intentions of 
the national legislature by which it was enacted, 
and of the rights plainly secured by the constitu- 
tion." 

In Washington, D. C, in August of 1885, a 
large audience assembled in the Nineteenth 
Street Baptist Church, to pay respect to the 
memory of the late General U. S. Grant. Hon. 
John M. Langston presided. Mr. Douglass was 
one of the speakers and paid a glowing tribute to 
the character of General Grant. In his beautiful 
peroration he concludes with the remark which 
doubtless would have been of prophetic import 
but for the sudden death of Mr. Conkling in 1888. 
Here are a few extracts : — 

" It is too early to give a complete analysis of 
this great man's character, or to state in full our 
debt of gratitude to him for his work in the world. 
But this may be said of him, for it will meet no 



170 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

contradiction from any quarter. He was a man 
too great to be envious of the fame of others ; too 
just to detract from the merits of the most bril- 
liant of his companions in arms ; too enlightened 
to be influenced by popular prejudice; too humane 
to despise the humblest. In him the negro found 
a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe 
a brother, an imperiled nation a savior. 

" He was accessible to all men, whether of 
high or low condition. He did not hide himself 
behind his dignity. The black soldier was wel- 
come in his tent, the freedman in his house. To 
those who forbade them, he simply said, ' Where 
I am, they may come ! ' 

"Among all the American people, no class will 
feel the loss of his death more deeply than we. 
No people will hallow his name and cherish his 
memory more sacredly than we. To others he 
was a patriot ; to us he was a liberator. To oth- 
ers he gave peace ; to us he gave liberty. To 
others he saved a country ; to us he gave a coun- 
try. He found us slaves, and left us freemen. 
He found us aliens, and left us citizens. He 
found us outside of law and civilization, and made 
us a part of the American body politic. 

" The statesman and orator who could best de- 
scribe, if he were here, the character and services 
of U. S. Grant is now out of public life, traveling 
in a far country. Ye gods ! how he loved him ! 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 17I 

How grandly and bravely he stood by the fallen 
hero in every hour of trial, and how firmly they 
believed and trusted each other. Who that wit- 
nessed it can ever forget the scene in the national 
convention, when the great senator from New 
York, in matchless eloquence, presented the name 
of the hero of Appomattox. The one was on the 
platform of debate, what the other was on the 
field of battle, and the vast audience was swayed 
to and fro by his eloquence, as the tall forest is 
swayed by the storm. The final funeral oration 
upon General Grant, the one which is to do full 
justice to his memor}^, the one that is to thrill the 
heart of the nation, and is to be read away down 
the tide of time by after-coming generations of the 
American people, must be delivered from the cham- 
ber of the American Senate by Roscoe Conkling.'' 

The following passage occurs in his celebrated 
lecture " The Mission of the War," and we con- 
sider it one of the gems of the English lan- 
guage :— 

"Ah ! there was a time in our national histor)^ 
when the colored man was not the despised man 
he has since become in the eyes of the American 
people ! When rebel armies were in the field 
threatening the republic with destruction, when 
rebellion was assured, bold, defiant, and flushed 
with victory; when the country was rent asunder 
at the center, and a bloody chasm yawned before 



172 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

it ; when the crowned heads of the old world were 
saying among themselves, aha ! aha ! the great re- 
publican bubble is about to burst and free govern- 
ment to vanish ; when the loyal armies of the 
Union were melting away like the snows of win- 
ter under a summer sun; when every morning 
sav/ dead soldiers, at every northern railroad sta- 
tion, and stumps of men, maimed, mutilated, arm- 
less, and legless, confronted us at every corner ; 
when churches, halls, and houses were draped 
with the weeds of mourning ; when the very air 
was heavy with sorrow and aged eyes swam in 
young tears for the slain ; when the hearts of 
strong men were failing them for fear of coming 
disaster; when the recruiting sergeants, with drum 
and fife, with banner and badge, foot sore and 
weary, were marching our streets from morning 
till night, calling for men, more men to go to the 
front, and fill up the gaps made by rebel powder 
and pestilence ; when the fate of the republic 
trembled in the balance and the star-spangled 
banner drooped at its staff heavy with blood — 
Abraham Lincoln called, aye, the country in its 
extremity called, upon the colored man to reach 
out his iron arm and clutch with steel fingers that 
faltering flag, and he came, he came ! full two 
hundred thousand strong, and from that hour the 
power of rebellion was broken and the tide of 
battle turned in favor of loyalty, liberty, and union." 



CHAPTER XI. 

Extracts from his Speeches and Lectures — 
Concluded. 

One of the early lectures prepared by Mr. 
Douglass, after his anti-slavery lectures, was 
"Self-made Men." It was delivered in many 
parts of the country, and attracted wide atten- 
tion. The following extract is taken from this 
lecture : — 

" By self-made men I mean precisely what the 
phrase imparts to the popular mind. They are 
the men who, without the ordinary helps and 
favoring circumstances which usually distinguish 
and promote success, have risen, in one way or 
another, and attained knowledge, power, position, 
and fame in the world. They are the men who 
owe very little to birth, relationships, or friendly 
surroundings. They have neither had the advan- 
tage of wealth inherited, nor early training, nor 
approved means of education. Like the over- 
taxed Hebrew slaves of Egypt, they have been 
required to make bricks without straw. They 
are the men who have come up, not only without 
the voluntary aid and assistance of society, but 
often in open, direct, and derisive defiance of all 
the powers and efforts of society to obstruct, 



174 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

repress, and keep them clown. In a world of 
schools, colleges, and other institutions of 
learning, they have been compelled to obtain 
education out of earth, air, and sky. In a 
peculiar sense they are indebted to themselves 
for themselves, and are architects of their own 
fortunes. If they have traveled far, they have 
made the road on which they traveled. If they 
have ascended high, they have built their own 
ladder. They are the men who come from 
fathomless social depths, and have burst the 
social strata that bound them. From the corn- 
field, the plow, and the work-bench, from the 
heartless pavements of large and crowded cities, 
barefooted, hungry, and friendless, out of the 
depths, obscurity, darkness, and destitution, they 
have come. Flung overboard in the midnight 
storm, on a perilous ocean, without oars, ropes, 
or life-preservers, they have bravely buffeted the 
frowning billows with their own sinewy arms, and 
have risen in safety, where other men, supplied 
with the best appliances, have fainted, despaired, 
and gone down. Such men as these, whether 
we find them in one position or another, whether 
in the college or in the factory, whether pro- 
fessors or plowmen, whether of Anglo-Saxon or 
Anglo-African origin, are self-made men, and 
have fairly won that title, and what honor soever 
that title implies. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 75 

"Though a man of this class may not be 
worshiped as a hero, there is a genuine heroism 
in the struggle he has made, and sublimity and 
glory in the triumph. Every such example of 
success is a help to the race. It is an assertion 
of the latent powers of simple, unaided manhood, 
and affords encouragement to the least favored 
among men. It robs labor of pain. It dispels 
gloom from the brow of destitution, and makes 
the roughest and flintiest hardships in the stern 
battle of life seem trifles light as air." 

After showing in what way self-made men 
attain success, he takes up certain criticisms to 
which men of this class are exposed. The pas- 
sage here introduced from the same lecture, while 
it shows the high value which Mr. Douglass 
places upon education and institutions of learning, 
furnishes an illustration of the broad and liberal 
views entertained by him upon all great ques- 
tions. 

This is the passage to which we refer: — 

" By these remarks, however, I intend no 
disparagement of educated men, or of educa- 
tional institutions. In all my admiration of self- 
made men, I am far from considering them the 
best-made men. 

" The roundness, fullness, and symmetry which 
we find in the scholar are often missing in the 
self-made man. He is strong, but apt to be 



176 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

one-sided. The hot rays of the sun have tanned 
him, and the rugged road over which he has 
traveled has marred his feet. The world has a 
value for skill and power, and for polish and 
beauty as well. It was not alone the hard work 
and good sense of Horace Greeley and Abraham 
Lincoln that made them successful, but the 
thoroughly educated men whom they had the 
wisdom to call into their councils. 

" So far from disparaging and underrating the 
importance of educational institutions, I am 
bound to say there never was a self-educated 
man in the world who, with the same exertion, 
would not have been better educated by the aid 
of schools. 

" I admit that self-made men are apt to 
underrate the value of schools and colleges. 
It is a natural result of the means by which 
they have obtained knowledge. Having made 
their way without such help, they naturally think 
that others can as well do the same. They 
forget that their own success might have been 
vastly greater with the help of these institutions 
than without them. They also forget that most 
young people need the spur to exertion which 
these institutions are fitted to give. 

" Another criticism upon self-made men is 
they are not over-modest. Like a great many 
others, they are apt to think more highly of 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 77 

themselves than they ought to think. Having 
fought the good fight and gained the victory, 
they credit themselves with their full value, and 
a trifle over. They know how to use the first 
personal pronoun, and do use it profusely. It 
cannot be said of them that they fail to assert 
themselves, or to claim their own achievements. 
Of this sort of self-made men Andrew Johnson 
was, perhaps, an exaggerated example. 

" In apology for this weakness, it may be said 
that a man indebted to himself for himself cannot 
well help thinking pretty highly of himself. 
The energies employed, the obstacles overcome, 
the height he has attained, the contrast he pre- 
sents to other men, force a sense of his own 
importance and make him egotistical." 

In point of polish and finish, the lecture 
known as " William the Silent," in the judgment 
of many, will take first rank among the writings 
of Mr. Douglass. It thrilled and captured the 
audiences that heard it. The beautiful passage 
in which the lecturer draws a parallel between 
William of Nassau and Abraham Lincoln is 
here given : — 

" William the Silent stands in some respects 
alone in history. He had to deal with a condi- 
tion of things peculiar to his own age and 
country. 

" What George Washington was in the darkest 



178 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

hours of American independence, what Toussaint 
L'Ouverture was to the black republic of Hayti, 
when the armies of Napoleon encamped about it 
and attempted its re-enslavement ; what Abra- 
ham Lincoln was to this country when James 
Buchanan had surrendered it to rebels ; what 
General Grant was in the Wilderness, ' Fighting it 
out on that line if it took all summer,' — that and 
more was William the Silent to his country, and 
to the cause of civil and religious liberty in the 
Netherlands. 

" But of the illustrious men thus mentioned, 
the one who most resembled our hero, you will 
easily see, was Abraham Lincoln. In saying this, 
I say much for Abraham Lincoln, and for the 
American people, for he embodied more of the best 
elements of the American character and states- 
manship than any of his long line of predecessors. 

" In the matter of his social position and train- 
ing, William stands in striking contrast to Abra- 
ham Lincoln. William was highborn, a prince 
of the blood, surrounded from the cradle with 
the best conditions that great wealth and high 
position could purchase. Lincoln, on the con- 
trary, sprang from the lowest round of the social 
ladder, with nothing but his simple manhood to 
support him. There was also a marked differ- 
ence in the respective mental characteristics of 
the two men. William was pre-eminently a 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 79 

leader of thought as well as of men. In this 
respect he was ever in the front rank, and never 
in the rear of his people. He was to them, liter- 
ally, a pillar of fire by night, and a pillar of cloud 
by day ; shielding them alike from darkness and 
from heat. Abraham Lincoln, great and good 
as he was, did not lead the thought and feeling 
of his country. He did not create opportunities 
or events, but he was wise enough to accept the 
advantages of both. He did not make public 
sentiment nor did he repress it, but he adjusted 
and timed his measures to its demands. And 
yet, these two men, so strikingly unlike in some 
important particulars, the products of different 
ages and civilizations, the outgrowths of different 
social conditions, the one a prince, the other a 
plebeian, the one a child of wealth, and the other 
a child of poverty ; the one trained in all the 
learning of the schools, and the other self-taught 
and self-made, were stamped by nature with the 
same lineaments of a common nobility, and ap- 
pointed to a common mission in the world. 

" Both men were, as we have seen, at the head 
of fearfully divided peoples, and both possessed, 
in large measure, the high qualities needed to 
soften asperities and heal divisions among them. 

" Both men had foes of their own households, 
and both had disguised traitors in their camps. 

"Both William and Lincoln were devoting thern- 



l8o LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

selves, heart and brain, to their countries' service, 
while they were yet in the midst of their years, 
when the body and the mind are both at their 
best. Yet, before age had plucked the fire from 
their hearts or dimmed the light in their eyes, 
the heavy cares of state had plowed deep furrows 
on their brows. Similar qualities begat for each 
the same appellation. The countrymen of Will- 
iam soon learned to call him ' Father William,' 
and those of Lincoln learned to call him ' Father 
Abraham.' The people believed in each, and 
trusted each, as children believe and trust in their 
fathers. While Abraham Lincoln lived and was 
seen at the capital of the nation, the loyal people 
never lost hope. Though a hundred battles 
we fought and lost, Lincoln never doubted of 
success, and the people shared his confidence. 
In William, also, there was the same unwavering 
and unfailing trust. In another respect these 
men resembled each other. Both were remark- 
able for an extremely cheerful disposition, and 
withal for a capacity for the most serious devo- 
tion to whatever business they might have in 
hand. Both, too, were often berated for appar- 
ent levity. But in character, as elsewhere, ex- 
tremes meet, and in this there is no contradiction. 
The man who laughs heartiest is the man who 
sorrows deepest, and the one extreme enables 
him to support the other. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. l8l 

" While moving about between besieged cities, 
starving garrisons, and inquisitorial fires, bearing 
on his breast a responsibility heavier than that 
of any other man in his country, William still 
found moments for great cheerfulness, and even 
merriment. 

" Men incapable of this feeling under such cir- 
cumstances, reproached him for levity. They 
did not know that the farther the pendulum of 
the human mind swings in one direction, the 
farther it must also swing in the other direction. 

"Great, loving hearts were in the breasts of both 
men. Their amiable qualities naturally called 
out and strengthened corresponding qualities in 
all who came about them. Resembling each 
other so closely in their temper, character, and 
relation to their times, it is remarkable that these 
two men should have resembled each other also 
in the manner of their deaths. Both were assas- 
sinated, the one by popery, the other by slavery, 
and both manifested the same spirit of charity. 

" When William died, as he did die, by the 
hand of one of the most cold-blooded, persistent, 
and treacherous assassins ever known in history, 
an ungrateful wretch, who, only the day before, 
had received from the good man a charity, — he 
died, invoking mercy and pardon for his guilty 
murderer. 

"Could our own Lincoln have spoken after the 



l82 LIFE OF FREbERICK DOUGLASS. 

assassin's bullet went crashing through his brain, 
it would have been entirely like him to have im- 
plored mercy for his merciless murderer. " Mal- 
ice toward none, charity toward all," was his 
motto in life and in death. 

" It is worthy of remark, too, that William the 
Silent and Abraham Lincoln were alike fortu- 
nate as to the time at which they were called 
away from the stormy scenes of life. Both saw 
the mighty works of their great lives nearly com- 
pleted, and died amid the glorious triumphs of 
their respective causes. 

William, though long under the ban of pope 
and king, and denounced by both as an outlaw, 
though long pursued by assassins, though large 
rewards had been offered for any one who would 
murder him, though five different attempts had 
been made upon his life, lived to see his coun- 
try free, his Spanish enemies worn out and 
broken down, the sectarian divisions of his 
country healed, the armies of Spain defeated and 
driven away from his country, its proud navies 
swept from the sea, and the pillars of the Dutch 
Republic, of which he was chief builder, firmly 
established. 

" Men now make pilgrimages to the place where 
William fell, and, while freedom has a home any- 
where on American soil, grateful pilgrims will 
find their way to the grave of Abraham Lincoln, 



LIFE OP FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 83 

"■Great hearted va^n both ! Though three cen- 
turies stretch away Hke an ocean, between your 
space in hfe and work, ye were cast in the same 
generous mold, ye were co-workers in the same 
great cause, and paid the same extreme penalty 
for your devotion, and together shall your mem- 
ories be cherished forever." 

At Baltimore, in 1876, Mr. Douglass for the 
first time delivered his celebrated lecture on 
The National Capital. Such sentences as would 
cause criticism when read apart from the lecture 
and out of their connection were telegraphed to 
Washington by prejudiced persons, and immedi- 
ately he became a target of abuse for the entire 
press of the District. When the lecture was 
read and understood, it became a subject of 
praise rather than of abuse. The humor that 
runs through the description which Mr. Douglass 
gives of the office-holding and office-seeking classes 
will be appreciated by the reader. 

The passage is as follows : — 

" But I would do injustice in the matter of the 
population of Washington, if I failed to say a 
word of another element in the social composi- 
tion of the capital, in no degree more agreeable 
and commendable than those already referred to. 

" They are the spoilsmen of every grade and 
description. They are the office holders, office 
seekers, contract buyers, pension agents, lobbyists, 



184 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

commissioners, and run-betweens in general. 
Men are here with all sorts of schemes and enter- 
prises, some with claims valid and just and some 
with claims neither valid nor just. Some have to 
secure the extension of a patent which ought to 
be extended, and some are here to prevent such 
extension. Some are here to contest the seat of 
a sitting member and some are here to assist him. 

" Some are here to use their influence for 
friends at a distance who are too modest or too 
timid to come themselves, some are here with 
heads full of brains, pockets full of money, and 
faces full of brass, to lobby through Congress 
a great patriotic measure with millions in it, and 
all are here to get something for nothing if pos- 
sible. 

" The faces and movements of these men are 
a study, and the impression they make is far 
from pleasant. There is here and there in the 
crowd a face of genuine manliness and joy, but 
the majority of them are wrinkled, darkened, and 
distorted by lines that tell of cunning, mean- 
ness, and servility. They are restless, eager, and 
anxious. 

" Nowhere will you find a greater show of insin- 
cere politeness. The very air is vexed with clumsy 
compliments and obsequious hat lifting. 

"Everybody wants favor, everybody expects 
favor, everybody is looking for favor, everybody is 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 85 

afraid of losing favor, hence everybody smiles, 
bows, and fawns towards everybody else, and every- 
body knows the full value and quality of this general 
self-abasement. You will seldom hear an honest, 
square, upright and downright no, in all this eager 
and hungry crowd. All look yes, and smile yes, 
even when they mean anything else than yes. In 
their large and well-worn pocket-books, many of 
them carry about with them carefully folded but 
considerably soiled papers, written in a solemn 
official hand earnestly recommending the bearer 
for any office or thing he may want, or he may be 
able to get, for when the former is impossible, the 
latter is always acceptable. 

" It is easy to see upon slight inspection that 
some of these papers are very old and have seen 
much service and certify to character which may 
have been lost a dozen times since they were 
written, and thus the biggest rogues may some- 
times have the best papers. 

"The national capital is never without a fair 
representation of these hungry spoilsmen, but the 
incoming of a new administration is the signal for 
the gathering in force of this remorseless class. 
The avenues of the city and the corridors of the 
capitol and other public buildings are the literal 
whirlpools of social driftwood from every section 
of the republic. 

"Its members are met with in all directions, 



1§6 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

They are crowding, elbowing, and buttonholing 
everywhere. 

" The least offensive of this multitude are those 
who come here to obtain clerkships and other 
positions in the several governmental departments. 
There is nothing in this service proper, to degrade 
or to demoralize, and yet I cannot recommend any 
young man to seek this mode of livelihood. The 
process of getting and holding these offices is 
often both degrading and demoralizing. It plays 
havoc with manly independence and true self- 
respect. 

" They are usually obtained through interven- 
tion of members of Congress and other influential 
persons for political service rendered or to be ren- 
dered, and there is often a strong temptation to 
resort to improper means to make an impression 
upon those whose influence is sought for this 
purpose. 

"All the dishonesty and duplicity in office seek- 
ing and in the pressing of claims are not on the 
side of this hungry crowd. The men who serve 
them or profess to serve them are not always 
sound or what they seem. 

"A member of Congress has been known to give 
a confiding constituent a strong letter of recom- 
mendation to a position in one of the government 
departments and then by another street outrun 
the applicant to the department addressed, to say 



LiFiE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 87 

that no attention must be paid to it and that his 
name was only signed to the letter for buncombe. 
The apology for this duplicity and treachery is po- 
litical necessity. He cannot afford to make a polit- 
ical enemy. He would doubtless very gladly give 
every voter in his district an office, but the voters 
are too many and the offices too few. He has 
two cats in his room and only one mouse in his 
closet. Hence, while he freely signs your papers 
he says to the heads of the departments, ' Pay no 
attention to my recommendations unless I per- 
sonally accompany the applicant.' 

" In this pre-eminently deceitful and treacher- 
ous atmosphere, promises even on paper do not 
amount to much. Everybody is fed and being fed 
upon great expectations and golden promises, and 
since the diet is less than dog cheap, nobody fails 
of a full supply. 

" If you want any office and want help to get it, 
everybody will cheerfully promise to help you. 
Your member of Congress will do what he can 
for you. Your senator will do what he can for 
you. Yotcr whole delegation will do what they 
can for you. The heads of various departments 
will do what they can for you, and even the pres- 
ident of the United States, who does not permit 
himself generally to interfere in the matter of 
departmental appointment, will do what he can 
for you. 



1 88 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

" The amazing thing, however, is that with all 
this gushing and abundant promise of help your 
name is not on the pay roll, you are still in the 
cold and your chances of getting in grow beauti- 
fully less, with every dinner your friends will 
permit you to take at Willard's, Wormley's, or 
Welker's. 

" It is commonly thought to be a nice and 
pleasant thing to be a member of Congress, but I 
think it would be difficult for a man to find any 
position more abundant in vexation. A man who 
gets himself elected to Congress can seldom do 
so without drawing after him to Washington a 
lively swarm of political creditors who want their 
pay in the shape of an office somewhere in the 
civil service. They besiege his house at all hours 
night and day, break his bell wires before break- 
fast, crowd his doorway, if he is in he cannot get 
out without seeing them and if he is out he cannot 
get in without seeing them. They waylay him 
as he goes to his house and dog him to the very 
doors, and summon him to the cloak room or 
lobby after he may have been so fortunate as to 
have reached his seat in the House of Represen- 
tatives. In all this sort of vexation and trouble he 
must be too polite or too prudent to express the 
slightest sense of annoyance. If he would be a 
successful politician he must face it all with the 
blandness, patience, and suavity of a true martyr." 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 89 

Mr. Douglass has attended all the national con- 
ventions of the Republicans since the nomination 
of Lincoln and has always been treated by the 
party leaders with marks of great respect and 
honor. At the convention held in Minneapolis 
in 1892 he occupied a prominent seat on the plat- 
form in rear of the president, Hon. William Mc- 
Kinley, Jr., of Ohio. In 1888 at the convention 
held at Chicago, being loudly and repeatedly called 
for, he made a short address which was heartily 
applauded by the entire audience. Mr. Douglass 
at this time was in favor of the nomination of 
Hon. John Sherman, whom he regarded as the 
leading American statesman and a true friend of 
the colored race. 

Standing before that immense audience he 
said : — 

" Mr. President : I had the misfortune last night, 
while speaking to a vast audience in the Armory, 
to break my voice so that I feel wholly unable to 
address you any more than to express my thanks 
to you for the cordial welcome, the earnest call, you 
have given me to this platform. I have only one 
word to say and it is this, that I hope this conven- 
tion will make such a record in its proceedings as to 
put it entirely out of the power of the leaders of 
the Democratic party and the leaders of the Mug- 
wump party (laughter) to say that they see no 
difference between the Republican party and the 



190 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Democratic party in respect to the class I repre- 
sent. (Applause.) I have great respect for a cer- 
tain quality I have seen distinguished in the 
Democratic party. It is its fidelity to its friends 
(laughter) ; its faithfulness to those whom it has 
acknowledged as its masters for the last forty 
years. (Laughter and applause.) They were faith- 
ful — I mean the Democrats were faithful — to the 
slaveholding class during the existence of slavery. 
They were faithful before the war ; they were faith- 
ful during the war. They gave them all the encour- 
agement they possibly could without drawing their 
own necks into the halter. (Laughter and ap- 
plause.) They were faithful during the period of 
reconstruction. They have been faithful ever 
since. They are faithful to-day to the ' solid South.' 
I believe that the Republican party will prove itself 
equally faithful to its friends (cries of 'Good, good') 
and those friends during the war were men with 
black faces. (Cries of ' That's right ! ') They were 
eyes to your blind, they were shelter to your 
shelterless sons when they escaped from the line 
of the rebels. They are faithful to-day, and when 
this great republic was at its extremest need, when 
its fate seemed to tremble in the balance, and the 
crowned heads and the enemies of republican in- 
stitutions were saying in Europe: 'Aha, aha, this 
great republican bubble is about to burst ;' when 
your armies were melting away before the fire and 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I9I 

pestilence of rebellion, you called upon your 
friends, your black friends ; when your star span- 
gled banner, now glorious, was trailed in the dust, 
heavy with patriot blood, you called upon the negro 
— yes, Abraham Lincoln called upon the negro 
(great applause) to reach forth his iron arm and 
clutch with his steel fingers your faltering banner ; 
and they came, they came 200,000 strong. (Loud 
cheers.) Let us remember those black men in 
the platform that you are about to promulgate, 
and let us remember that these black men are 
stripped of their constitutional right to vote. 
(Cheers.) Leave these men no longer to wade to 
the ballot-box through blood, but extend over 
them the arm of this republic and make their 
pathway to the ballot-box as straight and as 
smooth and as safe as any other citizen's. (Cheers.) 
Be not deterred from duty by the cry of ' bloody 
shirt.' (Cheers.) Let that shirt be waved as long 
as blood shall be found upon it. (Cheers.) A 
government that can give liberty in its constitu- 
tion ought to have power to protect liberty in its 
administration. (Cheers.) I will not take up your 
time. I have gotten my thoughts before you. I 
speak in behalf of the millions who are disfran- 
chised to day. (Cheers and cries of ' Go on,' 
' Douglass, Douglass ! ')" 

In Chicago January i, 1893, o^"^ the dedication 
of the pavilion devoted to the exhibits from the 



192 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Republic of Hayti, Hon. Frederick Douglass, one 
of the commissioners for the Haytian government, 
made an address which the reader will find inter- 
esting and instructive. He takes the opportun- 
ity here afforded to praise the courage and bravery 
of the Haytians in their struggle forindependence 
and to pay in glowing language a graceful tribute 
to the great Toussaint in contrasting him with 
Napoleon Bonaparte. 

" In taking possession of and dedicating this 
pavilion to the important purposes for which it 
has been erected, Charles A. Preston and my- 
self, commissioners appointed by the government 
of Hayti to represent that government in all that 
pertains to such a mission, wish to express our 
satisfaction with the work thus far completed. His 
Excellency, General Hyppolite, has been the su- 
preme motive power and the mainspring by which 
this pavilion has found a place in these magnifi- 
cent grounds. The moment when his attention 
was called to the importance of having his country 
well represented in this Exposition, he compre- 
hended the significance of the measure, and has 
faithfully and with all diligence endeavored to 
forward such resources as were necessary to at- 
tain this grand result. For ourselves as commis- 
sioners, under whose supervision and direction 
this pavilion has been built, I may say that we 
feel sure that Hayti will heartily approve our 




From Harpir's Weekly. Copyright, 18SS, by Harper & Brottien 

GENERAL HYPPOLITE. 



I 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 93 

work, and that no citizen of that country who 
shall visit the World's Columbian Exposition will 
feel ashamed of its appearance or will fail to con- 
template it with satisfied complacency. Its in- 
ternal appointments are consistent with its exter- 
nal appearance. They bear the evidence of 
proper and thoughtful regard for the taste, com- 
fort, and convenience of its visitors, as well as for 
the appropriate display of the productions of the 
rich, tropical country which shall be here exhibited. 
Happy in these respects, it is equally happy in an- 
other important particular. Its location and sit- 
uation are desirable. It is not a candle put under 
a bushel, but a city set upon a hill. For this we 
cannot too much commend or be too grateful for 
the liberality of the honorable commissioners and 
managers of these grounds. They have awarded 
us ample space and a happy location. 

" Hayti will be hajDpy to meet and welcome its 
friends here. While the gates of the World's 
Columbian Exposition shall be open and shall 
welcome the world to this enclosure, the doors of 
this pavilion shall also be open and will give a 
warm welcome to all who shall see fit to honor us 
with their presence. Our emblems of welcome 
will be neither brandy nor wine. No intoxicants 
will be served here, but we shall give all comers a 
generous taste of our Haytian coffee, made in the 
best manner by Haytian hands. They shall find 

13 



194 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

this coffee pleasant in flavor and delightful in 
aroma. Here, as in the sunny clime of Hayti, we 
shall try to do honor to that country's hospitality. 
" We meet to-day on the anniversary of the in- 
dependence of Hayti, and it would be an unpar- 
donable omission not to remember that fact with 
all honor at this time and in this place. Copsid- 
ering what the environments of Hayti were ninety 
years ago ; considering the peculiar antecedents 
of its people, both at home and in Africa; consid- 
ering their long enforced ignorance, their poverty 
and weakness, and their want of military training ; 
considering their destitution of the munitions of 
war, and measuring the tremendous moral and 
material forces that confronted and opposed them, 
the achievement of their independence is one of 
the most remarkable and one of the most wonder- 
ful events in the history of this eventful country, 
and I may almost say in the history of mankind. 
I shall make no elaborate comparison of Hayti 
with ourselves. American independence was a 
task of tremendous proportions. In the contem- 
plation of it the boldest held their breath and 
many brave men shrank from it appalled. But 
Herculean as was this task and dreadful as were 
the hardships and sufferings it imposed, it was 
nothing in its terribleness when compared with 
the appalling nature of the war Hayti dared to 
wage for its freedom and independence. Its sue- 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 1 95 

cess was a surprise and a startling astonishment 
to the world. Our war of the revolution had a 
thousand years of civilization behind it. The 
men who led it were descended from scholars, 
statesmen, and heroes. Their ancestry were the 
men who had defied the powers of royalty and 
wrested from an armed and reluctant king the 
grandest declaration of human rights ever given 
to the world. They had the knowledge and 
character naturally inherited from long years of 
personal and political freedom. They belonged to 
the ruling race of the world and the sympathy of 
the world was with them. But far different was 
it with the men of Hayti. The world was all 
against them. They were slaves accustomed to 
stand and tremble in the presence of haughty 
masters. Their education was obedience to the 
will of others, and their religion was patience and 
resignation to the rule of pride and cruelty. As 
a race they stood before the world as the most 
abject, helpless, and degraded of mankind. Yet 
from these men of the negro race came brave 
men ; men who loved liberty more than life, wise 
men, statesmen, warriors, patriots, and heroes ; 
men whose deeds stamp them as worthy to rank 
with the greatest and noblest of mankind ; men 
who have gained their freedom and independence 
against odds as formidable as ever confronted a 
righteous cause or its advocates. Aye, and they 



196 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

not only gained their liberty and independence, 
but they have maintained it. They have never 
surrendered what they thus gained to any power 
on earth. This precious inheritance they hold 
to-day, and I venture to say here in the ear of all 
the world, not in a spirit of defiance, but in the 
confidence of the integrity of Hayti's people, that 
they never will surrender their inheritance. 

" Much has been said of the savage ferocity 
and sanguinary character of the warfare waged 
by the Haytians against their masters and against 
the invaders sent from France by Bonaparte with 
the purpose to re-enslave them, but impartial 
history records the fact that every act of blood 
and torture committed by the Haytians during 
that war was more than duplicated by the French. 
The revolutionists did only what was essential to 
success in gaining their freedom and independ- 
ence, and what any other people assailed by such 
an enemy for such a purpose would have done. 

" They met deception with deception, ambus- 
cade with ambuscade, arms with arms, harassing 
warfare with harassing warfare, fire with fire, blood 
with blood, and they never would have gained their 
freedom and independence if they had not thus 
matched the French at all extremes, ends and op- 
posites. 

" History will be searched in vain for a warrior 
more humane, more free from the spirit of revenge, 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. I97 

more disposed to protect his enemies, and less 
disposed to practice retaliation for acts of cruelty 
than was Toussaint L'Ouverture. His motto 
from the beginning of the war to the end of his 
participation in it was protection to the white col- 
onists and no retaliation of injuries. No man in 
the island had been more loyal to France, to the 
French republic and to Bonaparte ; but when he 
was compelled to believe by overwhelming evi- 
dence that Bonaparte was fitting out a large fleet 
and was about to send a large and powerful army 
to Hayti to conquer and reduce his people to 
slavery, he, like a true patriot, and a true man, 
determined to defeat this infernal intention by 
preparing for effective defense. 

" The world will never cease to wonder at the 
failure of the French and the success of the blacks. 
Never did there appear a more unequal contest. 
The greatest military captain of the age, backed 
by the most warlike nation in the world, had set 
his heart upon the subjugation of the despised 
sons of Hayti, and spared no pains, and hesitated 
to employ no means, however revolting, to com- 
pass his purpose. Though he availed himself of 
bloodhounds from Cuba to hunt down and devour 
women and children ; though he practiced fraud, 
duplicity, and murder ; though he scorned to 
observe the rules of civilized warfare ; though he 
sent against poor Hayti his well-equipped and 



198 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

skillfully commanded army of 50,000 men ; though 
the people against whom this army came were 
unskilled in the arts of war ; though by a treachery 
the most dishonorable and revolting the invaders 
had succeeded in capturing and sending Tous- 
saint in chains to France to perish in an icy prison ; 
though his swords were met with barrel hoops ; 
though a wasting war had defaced and desolated 
the country for a dozen years, Hayti was still free, 
its spirit was unbroken, and its brave sons were 
still at large in the mountains ready to continue 
the war if need be for a century. 

" When Bonaparte had done his worst, and the 
bones of his unfortunate soldiers whitened upon 
a soil made rich by patriotic blood, and the shat- 
tered remnants of his army were glad to escape 
alive, the heroic chiefs of Hayti, in the year 1803, 
declared its independence, and it has made good 
that declaration down to 1893. Hayti's presence 
here to-day in the grounds of this World's Co- 
lumbian Exposition at the end of the 400th 
anniversary of the discovery of the American con- 
tinent is a re-afifirmation of its existence and 
independence as a nation and of its place among 
the sisterhood of nations." 



1 

t 



CHAPTER XII. 
Members of the Douglass Family. 

As has been stated elsewhere in this volume, 
Mr. Douglass married soon after escaping from 
slavery. His wife, Anna Murray, came originally 
from the eastern shore of Maryland, and lived 
for seven or eight years in Baltimore, where Mr. 
Douglass first met her. While she did not have 
the advantages of education in her girlhood days, 
she was a woman of strong character, with much 
natural intelligence. As a housekeeper, she was 
a model, and the practical side of her nature 
made her a fitting helpmate to her husband in 
his early struggles and vicissitudes. In manner 
she was reserved, while he, as is well known, is 
of a jocose disposition. 

She was the financier of the family. It was a 
settled principle with Mr. and Mrs. Douglass never 
to incur debts. If an addition was to be made to 
their home, or if they had under consideration 
any matter requiring the expenditure of money, 
they first counted the cost, and then made sure 
that the means were in hand before entering 
upon their plans. 

In her death, which occurred in Washington 
in i88 1, husband and children suffered a great 



200 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

loss and a severe trial, for she was a good mother 
and a faithful wife. 

Annie, the youngest child, died in Rochester 
when eleven years of age. John Brown, in his 
visits to Mr. Douglass' house, became attached 
to her, and she grew very fond of him. It is 
thought that her death was caused by the shock 
which she received on hearing of his execution 
at Charlestown, Virginia. Annie must have 
been a lovable child, for Mr. Douglass speaks of 
her as the " light and life of my house." 

Frederick Douglass, Jr., the second son, was 
born in New Bedford, Mass., March 3, 1842. He 
with the other children was educated in the 
public schools of Rochester, New York. At an 
early age Frederick with his brothers Lewis and 
Charles aided in piloting runaway slaves to 
Canada through the underground railroad. Dur- 
ing the war he was employed as recruiting agent 
for the state of Massachusetts and was engaged 
in business of like nature in Mississippi and sur- 
rounding states. He served as bailiff of the 
courts in the District of Columbia under two 
marshals. 

In the year 1871 he married Miss Virginia L. 
Hewlett, daughter of Mr. Hewlett of Cambridge, 
Mass., whose son, E. M. Hewlett, Esq., is a suc- 
cessful lawyer of Washington. Mr. Douglass 
resembled his father in personal appearance. He 




Mrs. R. D. SPRAGUE, 

Daughter of Frederick Douglass. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 20I 

was a man of ability, courteous in demeanor, and 
made many friends. He died in Washington, 
July, 1892, the death of his wife occurring two 
years before this time. 

Mrs. Rosetta Douglass Sprague, a lady of cul- 
ture and engaging manners, was born in New 
Bedford, Mass., June 24, 1839, and is the eldest 
child and only living daughter of Mr. Douglass. 
At six years of age she went to Albany, N. Y., 
to reside with Miss Mott, a friend of the family, 
where she remained three years. On returning 
home to her parents, who had now taken up their 
residence in Rochester, she and the other chil- 
dren were placed under the instruction of Miss 
Phebe Thayer, a Quaker lady who was employed 
as governess in the family, colored children at 
this time not being permitted to attend the public 
schools. It was now that Mr. Douglass began a 
fight for the admission of his children into the 
city schools, and in 1850 the school authorities 
yielded to his demands. The admission of these 
children was not only the opening wedge for the 
admission of other colored children, but abol- 
ished for all time the separate school system in 
Rochester. 

At the age of eleven she was employed by her 
father in his ofiice in folding papers and in writ- 
ing wrappers. As she advanced in age and 
acquired skill and experience, she became his 



202 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

amanuensis, writing editorials and lectures at his 
dictation. For a time she studied at Oberlin, 
Ohio, and subsequently taught school at Salem, 
New Jersey. 

Miss Rosetta was married to Mr. Nathan 
Sprague in Rochester, December 24, 1863. Mr. 
Sprague is engaged in the real estate business, 
and resides with his family in a beautiful home 
at Takoma Park in the suburbs of Washington. 

Lewis H. Douglass, the eldest son, was born 
in New Bedford, Mass., October 9, 1840. He 
was eight years old when the family removed to 
Rochester. His education was obtained in the 
schools of that city. He rendered valuable assist- 
ance in the publication of the newspaper con- 
ducted by his father. Enlisting in the 54th 
Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the spring 
of 1863, he continued with that regiment till 
1864, when he was discharged for disability in- 
curred in the line of duty. He held the impor- 
tant position of sergeant-major of his regiment, 
being appointed to that rank immediately upon 
his enlistment. He took part in the engagement 
on James Island, July 10, 1863; was in the assault 
on Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, and in the six 
weeks' siege following the famous storming of 
that fort, under which his health broke down, mak- 
ing his discharge necessary. 

The beautiful words used by the poet in 







\ 



LEWIS H. DOUGLASS. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 203 

describing the conduct of the Black Regimcjit at 
Port Hudson, Louisiana, June, 1863, is descrip- 
tive, as well, of the action of that body of brave 
men who made the attack upon Wagner. 

" ' Freedom ! ' their battle cry — 
' Freedom ! or leave to die ! ' 
Ah ! and they meant the word, 
Not as with us 'tis heard, 
Not a mere party shout ; 
They gave their spirits out; 
Trusted the end to God 
And on the gory sod 
Rolled in triumphant blood." 

In Syracuse, N. Y., October 7, 1869, Mr. Lewis 
H. Douglass was married to Miss Helen Amelia 
Loguen, daughter of Bishop J. W. Loguen of the 
A. M. E. Zion Church. 

For two years by appointment of President 
Grant, Mr. Douglass was a member of the coun- 
cil of the legislature of the District of Columbia, 
and for two years he was a special agent of the 
post office department. During the adminis- 
tration of President Hayes, he held the office of 
assistant marshal of the District of Columbia for 
the United States. For several years he has 
conducted a real estate office at 934 F street, 
Washington, and is regarded as one of the most 
successful business men of the race at the na- 
tional capital. 

Charles Remond Douglass was born in Lynn, 



504 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Mass., October 21, 1844, and when five years of 
age entered the public schools of Rochester. 
Five years later he began folding and delivering 
his father's papers to city subscribers, 'leaving 
school one day in each week for that purpose. 
The breaking out of the Civil War found him 
engaged in farming. When only nineteen years 
of age, February 9, 1863, he enlisted in the 54th 
Massachusetts Infantry, being the first negro in 
the state of New York to enlist. Having served 
thirteen months in Company F of this regiment, 
he was transferred and promoted as first sergeant 
of Company I, 5th Massachusetts cavalry, and re- 
mained with that command until near the close 
of the war. 

He was married at Rochester, September 21, 
1866, and in April of the following year was 
appointed to a clerkship in the war department. 
Up to this time there had been only one other 
appointment of a negro to a clerkship under the 
government of the United States. Assigned to 
duty with General O. O. Howard, commissioner 
of the Freedmen's Bureau, he served as confiden- 
tial clerk to the commissioner and as clerk in the 
education division of the bureau. In 1869 he 
was appointed to a clerkship in the treasury de- 
partment. Sometime prior to this he received, at 
the hands of Mrs. Lincoln, the cane commonly 
used by President Lincoln in his daily walks, 




CHARLES R. DOUGLASS. 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 205 

with instructions to convey the same with her 
comphments to his father, Frederick Douglass, 
then residing in Rochester. In 1871, having 
been detailed to accompany as clerk the annex- 
ation commissioners to Santo Domingo, he made 
with them the tour of the Island of Hayti and 
Santo Domingo. Four years after this he was 
appointed by President Grant United States 
Consul to Pureto, Santo Domingo, resigning in 
1878 by reason of the last illness and death of 
his wife. Returning to America he settled in 
Corona, New York, where he was for a time 
engaged in the West India commission business. 
December 30, 1880, he married Miss Laura A. 
Haley of Canandaigua, N. Y., and two years later 
was appointed an examiner in the Pension Bureau, 
where he is at present employed. 

Since residing in Washington, Mr. Douglass 
has held several important commands in the 
District National Guard, has been a member of 
the staff of three commanders-in-chief of the 
Grand Army of the Republic, and is at present 
major, commanding the Capital City Guard Corps, 
an independent military organization of Wash- 
ington. Before the consolidation of the city 
and county schools, from 1871 to 1874, he was 
secretary and treasurer of the county schools, 
filling during the same period the position of 
school trustee. In this latter position he was 



206 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

instrumental in securing the first appointment of 
colored teachers in the county schools, and it 
was largely through his efforts that the equaliza- 
tion in the pay of colored teachers and the 
whites was accomplished. 

Frederick Douglass has followed with loving 
solicitude the career of his children, and has 
done all in his power to advance their interests 
and promote their happiness. Now in his ad- 
vanced age he has reason to be satisfied with the 
success which has attended them. 

In the winter of 1884 Mr. Douglass married 
an Anglo-Saxon lady. Miss Helen Pitts of west- 
ern New York. She is a lady of refinement and 
education, and po3sessed of pleasing manners. 
Mr. Douglass' married life is one of enjoyment 
and happiness. He and Mrs. Douglass fre- 
quently entertain friends from the city, on which 
occasions she presides with grace and dignity. 




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CHAPTER XIII. 

His Home. — Personal Traits and Charac- 
teristics. 

The home of Mr. Douglass is at Anacostia, 
about three miles northeast from the city of 
Washington. Its situation is extremely beautiful. 
His house stands upon an elevation called Cedar 
Hill, which overlooks the Potomac and commands 
a fine view of the city and surroundings. The 
house of modest pretensions, commodious withal, 
is of Southern style of architecture, and, as all 
such houses are, was constructed with a view to 
comfort and convenience. You enter the front 
hall from a veranda extending the entire length 
of the house in front. From this veranda one has 
a view of the sunsets, which in this latitude are 
unparalleled for grandeur and beauty. On either 
side of the hall is a parlor, and back of the east 
parlor is a library of well-selected books. This 
latter is Mr. Douglass' workshop where he pre- 
pares those lectures which delight and thrill so 
many audiences. Adjoining the front hall and 
west parlor is his dining room, where from time 
to time he has entertained many distinguished 
guests. In the front hall hang portraits of 
Charles Sumner and ex-Senator Blanche K. 



208 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

Bruce. There are also two portraits, one in 
either parlor, of Mr. Douglass. The first repre- 
sents him in the early days of his anti-slavery 
career, the other in more mature life. In the west 
parlor over the mantel is a beautiful picture in 
water colors of Othello wooing Desdemona. This 
picture Mr. Douglass values very highly. On 
the walls of the library hang portraits of the African 
Cinque, of Toussaint L'Ouverture, John Brown, 
Abraham Lincoln, Hyppolite, and other illustri- 
ous men. The same simplicity which is char- 
acteristic of Mr. Douglass in his manner, in his 
dress, in his conversation, in his speeches, may 
be seen in the appointments of his house. All 
the rooms are tastefully but not extravagantly 
furnished. 

That portion of the ground not reserved for an 
orchard and a garden is beautifully laid off in 
walks and drives. In the rear of the house is an 
extensive level tract which he has converted into 
a fine croquet ground. Here he may be seen any 
evening, when the weather permits, playing cro- 
quet with his wife and friends from the city. He 
is extremely fond of the game, and is usually the 
victor however skillful in play his antagonist may 
be. 

Mr. Douglass is an excellent conversationalist. 
He expresses himself with correctness, ease, and 
elegance. He rivals Mr. Lincoln in telling anec- 



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LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 209 

dotes. His stock of humor is an unending source 
of entertainment. When he has laid aside the 
restraints of office and public duty, he gives him- 
self up freely to the pleasures and enjoyments of 
home. The writer remembers one evening when 
he and other friends spent several hours in social 
converse with Mr. and Mrs. Douglass. Mr. 
Douglass seemed to be in one of his happiest 
moods. The presence of his guests called forth 
many reminiscences of his past life, and happy 
remarks of practical wisdom. Referring to the 
discouragements which young men encounter, he 
said that a man cannot ordinarily expect to rise 
to the topmost round of successful achievement 
by a single bound without taking the intermedi- 
ate steps. He observed in the time of the Cali- 
fornia fever that those who took money with them 
brought back nothing ; but those who went empty 
handed, depending on diligence and economy, 
returned in possession of wealth. Referring to his 
own early experience he said that in the first few 
years of his public life, having then a wife 
and four children, he received a salary of only 
three hundred and fifty dollars a year, but man- 
aged to lay by a portion of this for future use. 

Speaking of the A. M. E. Church Review pub- 
lished by Dr. Tanner, of Philadelphia, which he 
had recently read, he praised it in glowing terms, 
and said that while it made no pretension to ex- 

14 



2IO LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

cellence in artistic skill, it nevertheless contained 
valuable information set forth in well written arti- 
cles. As the first literary magazine of the colored 
race, it is most creditable and we have reason to 
be proud of it. Twenty years ago a like produc- 
tion would have been impossible. He said he 
was engaged in reading the writings and speeches 
of Rome's ancient senators and statesmen, refer- 
ring to his book-strewn table. In his reading he 
observed one thing in particular — the profundity 
and incisiveness of their style. Such laconic 
brevity is scarcely observable in the utterances 
of modern statesmanship. The Roman senator 
cracks the nut and gives you the kernel. We 
have not made much progress in these matters 
since that time. In answer to the suggestion as to 
the desirableness of an authentic publication of 
his lectures and speeches, he said it was his hope 
at some time to arrange them for publication, 
along with a collection of his letters. He wished 
something to be left as a memorial of his work, 
humble though it was. It might, in some way, 
help to weaken the force of the criticism some 
one has made that, " If the negro were sunk 
in the depth of the sea, all that the negro has 
done and the negro himself would be forgotten 
within twenty years." 

During their visit, the company were served 
with tea, Mrs. Douglass presiding. The members 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 2 I I 

of the party were deeply impressed with the gen- 
erous hospitality of the host, and realized that 
they were in the presence of a man of varied ex- 
perience, having a mind stored with useful knowl- 
edge; and the success of whose life illustrates 
the difference between mere knowledge and prac- 
tical wisdom. On the departure of the company 
Mr. and Mrs. Douglass followed them to the door, 
and all were delighted with the charming beauty 
of the view of Washington and the Potomac 
illumined with the glory of the setting sun. 

He is fond of music and often plays the violin 
accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Douglass. It 
is related that in earlier days while an exile in 
Scotland, passing along the street in a despond- 
ent mood he saw a violin hanging out at a store 
door, and going in bought it. He then went 
home, shut himself up, played for three days until 
he was in tune himself and again went out into 
the world — a cheerful man. 

Mr. Douglass is of a bright and buoyant dis- 
position at home as well as in public. An indica- 
tion of his vivacity is shown in the fact that when 
confined in the Easton jail, with liability of being 
sold to New Orleans, he unraveled his socks and 
made a ball with which he played. 

He is a man of temperate habits and strict in 
his business engagements. In Washington, as 
elsewhere, his word is his bond. He has accu- 



212 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

mulated a competency, the result of industry and 
economy. He has made it a principle of his life 
to save something out of his earnings, small 
though those earnings be. With all his habits of 
economy he has been a generous man, giving 
freely to every worthy cause. Numerous instances 
could be mentioned which would show how Mr. 
Douglass' purse has always been open to relieve 
misery and distress. He is often sought by per- 
sons, some seeking pecuniary aid and others em- 
ployment. He seems always to have a due regard 
for the feelings and rights of others, even in the 
smallest matters. It is natural for him to be 
polite ; it is not that artificial politeness which 
comes from studying books of etiquette, but it 
springs from his soul. 

He is frank and fearless in expressing his views 
even though they bring him into sharp antago- 
nism with those who hold different opinions. 
This was evidenced by his antagonizing his life- 
long friends, the Garrisonians, upon the interpre- 
tation of the constitution, they holding that the 
constitution was pro-slavery in character and he 
that it was anti-slavery. Vials of wrath, so to 
speak, were poured out upon his head by the 
Garrisonian abolitionists when he proclaimed his 
views to the country, but Mr. Douglass was not 
driven from his position on that question. A 
man of ordinary courage would have been utterly 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 213 

overwhelmed by the great force of the opposition. 
Through a long and eventful life, he has never 
been known to deny his principles through fear 
or timidity or for the sake of temporary advan- 
tage. No one is ever long in doubt on which side 
of any important question he stands. Having 
satisfied himself which side is the right side, his 
course is neither vacillating nor uncertain. 

He is a man of great force of will, and is very 
much like Mr. Garrison in this respect, who, it 
will be remembered, placed at the head of the 
Liberator, when he first began to publish it, these 
words, "I am in earnest, I will not equivocate, I 
will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch — 
I will be heard." The success of the anti-slavery 
cause required that men of such force of charac- 
ter and determination should be its champions. 
Without them there could have been no success. 

Mr. Douglass is one of the best examples the 
country affords of what a man of character and 
ability may become by energy and industry. 
Franklin, Henry Clay, Webster, Lincoln, Wilson, 
Garfield, and Grant are given as illustrations of 
the developing influences of our country. These 
men all rose from poverty and obscurity to high 
places in the government, but Mr. Douglass 
sprang from depths which these men never knew 
in their experience. With them it was possible 
to obtain the highest honor in the gift of the 



214 LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 

people, and three of the men named did reach 
that exalted position. How different it was with 
Mr. Douglass, the slave, the fugitive, the exile. 
Twice was he compelled to flee his native land 
and seek shelter and safety under the flag of a 
foreign power. Not till the war ended was his 
freedom actually made secure. Even at this 
late day color stands as a bar against social recog- 
nition and political preferment in this country. 
If Mr. Douglass had enjoyed the same advan- 
tages enjoyed by his white contemporaries, and if 
the same opportunities for advancement had been 
open to him, what public position in this country 
might he not have filled, not even excluding the 
presidency ? Had he like Clay and Webster 
been brought up in the profession of the law and 
afterwards transferred to the United States Sen- 
ate, he would have become the peer of any in that 
body ; for he has powers of mind which eminently 
fit him to grapple with the great questions that 
engage the attention of statesmen. 

His influence on the colored race has been 
greater than that of any other man. He is en- 
deared to them on account of his early struggles. 
They point with pride to his achievements and 
success ; they reverence him because of his ster- 
ling qualities and spotless character. They rec- 
ognize him as their most prominent leader, whose 
opinion they have always respected and whose 



LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS. 215 

advice they have in most cases followed. But his 
influence is not limited to the colored race. He 
will always be an inspiration to struggling youth 
who are ambitious to win distinction, and he will 
always be regarded as a model of true eloquence. 
History, because of his excellence and achieve- 
ments, will accord him a place in the galaxy of 
worthies whose fame is confined to no particular 
race or country. His is 

" One of the few, the immortal names, 
That were not born to die." 



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